Tsunami warning system faces $12M cut in President Trump's proposed budget

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- President Donald Trump's proposed budget would end funding for a tsunami detection system throughout the Pacific Ocean, and that cut is raising concerns for many people.

While it's been more than 10 years since an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed 235,000 people, there have always been concerns about a similar disaster taking place in the West Coast.

The U.S. drove the creation of a global tsunami warning system. That system is credited with saving lives when a tsunami slammed into Crescent City in Northern California in 2011.

"By knowing about tsunamis in advance, which is what these tsunami warning systems do, we can make accurate predictions about how large the tsunami is going to be, when it will arrive, and how to effect the most efficient evacuation to do the most good," said David Oglesby, geophysics professor with UC Riverside.

The Trump administration's proposed budget for the next fiscal year would cut $12 million in funding needed to operate the warning system. Those cuts would eventually shut it down.

California Congressman Adam Schiff is against the proposed cuts and issued a statement.

"By eliminating funding for both the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System and the Tsunami Detection System in his budget, President Trump is disregarding the serious danger of natural disasters that millions of Americans face along the West Coast."

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the possibility of a devastating tsunami on the West Coast. Thousands of lives could be threatened in low-lying parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties.

"Tsunamis pose a significant hazard to much of the western United States coastline. Tsunamis could be generated in Alaska, in Japan, in Hawaii. These tsunamis are forecast to potentially produce significant inundation and real loss of life and structural damage," Oglesby said.

Congress would still have to adopt Trump's proposed budget and could revise many of the cuts he suggests.
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