SEATTLE – President Donald Trump is under fire from environmentalists in the Puget Sound over his 2018 budget proposal that would slash $137 million from the U.S. Geological Survey. That would mean cutting funding for the earthquake early warning system, tsunami research and monitoring, and weather forecasting.
“The danger of earthquakes is constant,” said John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington. “The Seattle Fault is probably the biggest fault to Seattle.”
Everything west of I-5 would be hardest hit, with a place like Alki Beach taking the most severe damage. That’s why Vidale says early warning is so important.
“They can gather their families with a little bit of time. They can benefit from public transportation and cars slowing down so they’re less likely to have accidents,” said Vidale.
But under Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, the early warning system would lose funding and stop.
“We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy and I mean bloated,” Trump said.
The funding cuts would turn off the tsunami warning system and research would halt.
“We can try to find other ways to do it, but there’s no obvious way to do it and whatever it is it’ll be slow and won’t work as well,” said Vidale.
Ultimately, Vidale says paying for the warning systems is just a fraction of the potential cost of damage from one of these disasters.
“It’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to stop this effort now,” said Vidale.
We saw other scientists rally in April fearing these cuts would come. All of them now urging Congress to hear their cries and toss aside the president's proposed environmental cuts.
“We think common sense would dictate they put the money back in for public safety,” said Vidale.