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June 10, 2009 - ASCE Letter - Reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

June 10, 2009

The Honorable David Wu                         The Honorable Adrian Smith
Chairman                                               Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Research and               Subcommittee on Research and 
        Innovation                                              Innovation
Committee on Science and Technology     Committee on Science and Technology
U.S. House of Representatives                 U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                            Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Wu and Ranking Member Smith:

On behalf of the of the more than 146,000 members of the American Society of Civil
Engineers (ASCE) thank you for holding a hearing on the reauthorization of the
National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). As the representatives of
the profession most responsible for design of the nation’s public works infrastructure we
encourage you to move forward with reauthorization before the program expires in
September. We also wish to thank to the Subcommittee for including two ASCE
members in the hearing, Jim Harris, President of ASCE’s Structural Engineering
Institute (SEI) and Tom O’Rourke. ASCE wishes you to know that we endorse their
testimony.

Earthquakes are among the most devastating of all natural hazards. To find ways to
reduce the devastation NEHRP, enacted in 1977, funds earthquake related activities of
the U.S. Geological Survey, National Science Foundation, National Institute of
Standards and Technology and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Despite
continuing need, appropriations for NEHRP have decreased significantly in real dollars
since the late 1970's while the focus of mitigation activities has expanded to protect
economic viability and create disaster resilient communities.

ASCE was founded in 1852 and is the country’s oldest national civil engineering
organization. It represents civil engineers in private practice, government, industry and
academia who are dedicated to the advancement of the science and profession of civil
engineering. 

During consideration of the reauthorization of the NEHRP program, we would like to
encourage Congress to provide funding specifically to support research into improving
our capabilities of evaluating the seismic performance of existing structures and
developing new technologies for improving their seismic resistance. Our countries
stock of existing buildings and other structures which are at risk from a seismic event is
enormous. While much has been done over the life of NEHRP to improve our abilities
to analyze, design and construct new structures, our abilities to rehabilitate and retrofit
in cost effective manner is lagging and it is those structures which pose the greatest risk
to the safety of the public.

Once again, thank you for your leadership on this important issue. ASCE stands ready
to help in any way we can. Please do not hesitate to contact Martin Hight, ASCE’s
Senior Manager of Government Relations at 202-789-7843 or mhight@asce.org for
further information or help.

Sincerely,

D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE
ASCE President