Press Releases

House Passes DelBene’s Legislation to Protect Communities from Landslides

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1261, the National Landslide Preparedness Act. The bill passed by voice vote and 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. None of us will ever forget March 22, 2014, when a tragic landslide took the lives of 43 people and wiped out homes, businesses and roads. 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. I look forward to the Senate following suit and passing this bill” said Congresswoman DelBene.

“I know first-hand the monumental impacts our community was challenged with during the 2014 Oso landslide,” said Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin. He added, “In just over two minutes, we lost 43 of our family, friends and neighbors, we lost our main highway, our ability to communicate beyond the slide via phone or internet, and medical services. Prescription services and transactions were also not available. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the immediate impacts of this one event. The legislation that Representative DelBene has brought forward may not prevent another Oso slide but it gives communities like Darrington data that we can use to make important decisions about land use in hazard areas, response from our emergency services, and redundancy in infrastructure so precious time is not lost in a time of need.”

The landslide near Oso highlighted the need to close the gaps in science and mapping needed to better understand and prepare for landslide hazards. Her 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, improve emergency preparedness, and save lives.

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.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) are all original cosponsors of this legislation in the House.

DelBene represents Washington’s first congressional district.