It sets up a means of data coordination

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill prime-sponsored by Washington 1st District Congresswoman Suzan DelBene has passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a voice vote. H.R. 1261, the National Landslide Preparedness Act, now goes to the Senate.

“This victory has been a long time coming for the victims, families, friends and the entire Oso community, and honors our commitment to do everything possible to ensure we have the tools to help prevent these types of disasters,” Del Bene said.

A massive landslide on March 22, 2014, took the lives of 43 people and wiped out homes, businesses and roads along Highway 530 in Snohomish County. “Today’s passage of this legislation allows us to make significant progress in landslide science and will allow communities to be better prepared for when landslides do occur,” DelBene said.

The landslide at Oso highlighted the need to close gaps in science and mapping needed to better understand and prepare for landslide hazards. Del Bene’s legislation would establish a National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program through the U.S. Geological Survey to better identify and understand landslide risks, protect communities and property, and improve emergency preparedness.

DelBene’s bill will also direct the USGS to implement a 3D Elevation Program to update and coordinate the collection of elevation data across the country. This is critical for numerous reasons — to help communities plan for and respond to natural hazards; to update the nation’s topographical maps; and to inform a myriad of uses including public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture and natural resource management.

Sen. Maria Cantwell has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Five other representatives were original cosponsors of the legislation in the House.

The 1st District includes north Whatcom County.