Appendix A. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)
Appendix A1. NEHRP History and Accomplishments
In 1977, Congress passed the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act (the Act)which established the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP)- a long-term, earthquake risk reduction program. Member agencies in theprogram are the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National ScienceFoundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and theNational Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The agencies includedunder the 1977 act were mainly those engaged in research and development.
The program brought together concerns and recommendations that had beendeveloping along both legislative and executive tracks: a Congressionaltrack beginning with the devastating 1964 Alaska earthquake and fueled bythe 1971 San Fernando earthquake, and an executive track which began duringthe Ford administration when Vice President Rockefeller formed a commissionto identify new technological opportunities for earthquake mitigation. Inparallel during the mid-1970's, concern over the implications of the thenrecently identified Palmdale bulge in southern California led to the formationof the Newmark-Stever Committee by the President's Office of Science andTechnology Policy (OSTP). The Newmark-Stever Committee was tasked with developinga program to understand and address the seismic hazard in southern California.However, the scope of the program was subsequently broadened to includenational earthquake hazards. During the Carter administration, the FederalEmergency Management Agency (FEMA) was formed. FEMA was recommended by OSTPto coordinate the work of Federal agencies in the program recommended bythe Newmark-Stever Committee. Little new funding was to be provided in therecommended program; the intent was for the individual member agencies toseek funding from within their own budget allocation. The National EarthquakeHazard Reduction Act implemented many of the Newmark-Stever Committee recommendations,including designating member agencies, their activities and areas of responsibility,and the funds identified by those agencies as part of NEHRP.
The purpose of NEHRP is to reduce the risks to life and property in theUnited States from earthquakes through the establishment and maintenanceof an effective national earthquake risk reduction program. The Act's aimsinclude improved understanding, characterization, and prediction of hazardsand vulnerabilities; improved model building codes and land use practices;reduced risks from earthquakes through post-earthquake investigations andeducation; development and improvement of design and construction techniques;improved mitigation capacity; and accelerated application of research results.On 16 November 1990, President Bush approved Public Law 101-614, "TheNational Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act"which significantly amended the 1977 Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act, refiningthe descriptions of Agency responsibilities, program goals, and objectives.
As established by the 1977 Act, NEHRP is directly responsible for and haspromoted real gains in our understanding and characterization of earthquakehazards, our preparation for earthquakes, and how to mitigate the damagethey cause. Much has been accomplished by the NEHRP agencies working bothindividually, together in cooperative alliances, and with other federaland state agencies, private companies, universities, and regional, voluntaryand professional organizations. The program has supported research on:
- Science of earthquakes;
- Earthquake performance of buildings and other structures;
- Earthquake-resistant structural design standards and practices;
- Societal impacts;
- Emergency response and recovery;
- Regional land use Planning; and
- Education programs for the public.
Contributions from these joint efforts have addressed fundamental questionssuch as: Where have earthquakes occurred in the past?, Where do they occurnow?, Where will they likely occur in the future?, What causes earthquakesto occur in a geographic region?, With what frequency do they recur?, Howsevere are the physical effects of ground shaking and ground failure expectedto be in future earthquakes?, How do buildings and lifelines (such as telecommunicationslines, transportation, water, sewage, electric power, gas, and liquid fuellines) perform in the impacted communities?, and How can individuals andcommunities be better prepared for future earthquakes?
Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Pays Off with Northridge Earthquake
Investments in preparedness by the City of Los Angeles, the California Governor'sOffice of Emergency Services, the California Seismic Safety Commission,the Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Project (SCEPP), the SouthernCalifornia Earthquake Center (SCEC), NEHRP, and other southern Californiacities, and private and public emergency response professionals helped reducethe losses that could have occurred from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.NEHRP-supported activities include FEMA's funding of the California Governor'sOffice of Emergency Services, NEHRP support of the SCEPP, establishmentof the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) withfunding by NSF, and most recently the establishment of the Southern CaliforniaEarthquake Center (SCEC) with funding by NSF and USGS. Efforts of the NCEER,SCEPP and SCEC staff and their outreach programs in raising public awarenessof earthquake hazards in the Los Angeles area contributed to better preparednessand an increased attention on the very real earthquake risk faced by citizensof southern California. These actions in turn contributed to a more promptemergency response and organization in reaction to the Northridge earthquakethan might otherwise have happened.
Education and Training Programs
Accomplishments of NEHRP-supported activities also include educating andtraining experts in earthquake engineering and earth sciences. These expertshave provided technical leadership that is recognized worldwide. The EarthquakeEngineering Research Institute works to transmit the latest technical informationinto useful and comprehensible information for various audiences that havea role to play in reducing earthquake losses. The Seismic Safety Commission,Office of Emergency Services, and Sunset Magazine, utilizing materialsprepared in part through NEHRP-supported activities, have prepared materialsfor home owners, buyers, and sellers that will enable them to take stepsto make their homes less vulnerable to earthquakes. Development of socialscience knowledge through NEHRP-supported activities has also served asthe basis for major improvements in risk communication and education efforts,and will serve as the vehicle for future growth in mitigation activities.In California, for example, the Governor's Office of Emergency Servicesrelies heavily on social science knowledge to advance its risk communicationefforts.
NEHRP-Developed Design and Construction Practices and Guidelines
NEHRP contributions have provided:
- Recommended design practices for the seismic safety of new buildingswhich serve either as a primary source document or as a basis for all threenational model building codes and are available for adoption by state andlocal regulatory jurisdictions;
- Guidelines for assessment and engineering techniques for strengtheningof seismically hazardous existing buildings; and
- Contributions to technologies for the seismic safety of lifelines.
It is very difficult to estimate losses that do not occur, but an indicationof NEHRP's contributions to loss reduction is the low casualty and propertyloss rate experienced in U.S. cities during earthquakes of comparable sizeto earthquakes that caused catastrophic losses in foreign locales. For example,two recent U.S. earthquakes in the magnitude range of 6.7 to 7.2 -- LomaPrieta (1989) and Northridge (1994) -- occurred in or near major populationareas and caused relatively low casualty losses (fewer than 70 people ineach case). The social and economic disruption caused by these events wasfar less than that experienced in recent earthquakes in many other societies,though it is difficult to compare earthquakes in one cultural and geologicalsetting with those in another.
Major factors in these damage differences are the seismic design and constructionpractices in the United States, the development of preparedness planningefforts, and increased public awareness. In general, buildings and otherstructures that had been designed and rehabilitated using information traceableto NEHRP efforts performed well during both the Loma Prieta and the Northridgeearthquakes. In addition, emergency response organizations helped to minimizesocial and economic disruption in these cities. The information providedby NEHRP agencies prior to the event contributed to that effective performance.
As a result of NEHRP and collaborative state and local government and privatesector efforts, proven, up-to-date seismic design and construction practicesfor new and existing buildings are available for risk reduction in all areasof the nation. Many communities are now adopting and enforcing mitigationand preparedness measures along with emergency response measures such aspreplanning for recovery from an earthquake disaster.
The Nation's Model Building Codes reflect NEHRP Recommendations
All three national model building codes in the United States incorporateseismic risk criteria based on ground shaking hazard maps prepared throughNEHRP agency efforts. The Building Officials and Code Administrators International,Inc. (BOCA), National Building Code, and the Standard Building Code includecodified text of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions for the Developmentof Seismic Regulations for New Buildings prepared by the Building SeismicSafety Council. Executive Order (E.O.) 12699 "Seismic Safety of Federaland Federally Assisted or Regulated New Building Construction" (AppendixD1) requires design requirements which improve the seismic safety of newfederal buildings. It also provides an incentive to state and local governmentsto adopt and enforce adequate seismic provisions for new buildings so thatnew federal buildings can be constructed in their jurisdictions in accordancewith E.O. 12699. Executive Order (E.O.) 12941, "Seismic Safety of ExistingFederally Owned or Leased Buildings," (Appendix D2) signed 1 December1994, specifies evaluation, and if necessary, mitigation requirements whichwill improve the seismic safety of existing federal buildings. It requiresthe adoption and application by federal agencies of the Standards ofSeismic Safety for Existing Federally Owned or Leased Buildings. Italso requires agencies to inventory their owned and leased buildings andto estimate the costs of mitigating unacceptable seismic risks in thesestructures within four years. The order also requires FEMA to provide Congresswith a report on how to achieve an adequate level of seismic safety in federallyowned and leased buildings in an economically feasible manner within sixyears.
Appendix A2. NEHRP Challenges
Although NEHRP has had many successes, it also faces many challenges. Inthe earth sciences, significant advances have been made in understandingearthquake generation and identifying high risk areas, but developing ameans of predicting or even forecasting earthquakes has proved to be a muchgreater challenge than anticipated. In engineering, while great strideshave been made in developing building practices and advocating mitigationpractices, the implementation of the practices remains voluntary and thusgenerally very limited.
The Federal government's earthquake risk reduction efforts, carried outprimarily under NEHRP, are generally limited to activities and programsthat involve the Federal government. Many important earthquake risk reductionmeasures, such as those that entail land use and building codes, are entirelywithin the jurisdiction of state and local governments. The way the memberagencies' already mature and focused resources were brought together tocreate NEHRP may have set the tone for an interagency effort which is wellcoordinated but not well integrated. Although the language in the 1977 Actincluded a requirement that NEHRP develop mitigation incentives, none ofthe agencies have addressed this highly controversial, potentially politicallycharged, subject as thoroughly as intended.
Table 1. Frequent concerns and recommendations expressed in pastreviews of NEHRP: "Improving Earthquake Mitigation," Report toCongress, 1/93; "Report of the Advisory Committee of the National EarthquakeHazards Reduction Program, 1/93; "An Assessment of Selected User Needsand Recommendations for the NEHRP, 3/94 draft; "The Reauthorizationof the Earthquake Hazards Reductions Act," Hearings of the House Committeeon Science, Space and Technology, September 14, 1993; and "PracticalLessons from the Loma Prieta Earthquake," National Research Council,1994.) This report does not necessarily endorse or concur with all of these;some concerns are not under NEHRP control.
- The NEHRP program should tie seismic mitigation incentives to allfederal financing programs available to state and local governments. Theprogram should include: (1) expanding Executive Order 12699 for new constructionto include both direct and indirect federal financing; (2) incorporatingmitigation into federal rehabilitation financing programs; (3) linking receiptof federal disaster assistance to mitigation actions; and (4) identifyingappropriate incentives to stimulate mitigation actions, particularly forthe built environment.
- The NEHRP program needs to capitalize on the large number of federalgovernment programs that support construction and grants by requiring thatseismic safety be incorporated into these programs. Further, greater coordinationis needed between the NEHRP and non-NEHRP federal agencies in their researchand deployment efforts.
- Most state and local governments are unlikely to launch significantefforts to improve mitigation in the absence of stronger federal requirements,guidance, and incentives.
- A high priority need is to develop guidelines for earthquake resistantconstruction of lifeline facilities, particularly water, gas, and electricaltransmission and distribution lines.
- There is a critical need to develop performance-based seismic codesfor buildings that incorporate provisions for life-safety as well as otherdesign objectives, such as damage control and post-earthquake functionality.
- If cost offsets such as tax credits, insurance premium reductions,and interest-free loans can be created, more stringent codes and retrofitrequirements will be much more palatable to owners, and much easier to enactand enforce by regional and local jurisdictions. Financial inducements mustalso be provided to these jurisdictions to encourage better training andfunding for building and building plan inspectors, better education forthe construction trades, and resources for better enforcement.
- Local governments must insist on adequate inspection and enforcementof construction regulations and standards. Educational courses should bemandatory to provide building and building plan inspectors with up-to-dateknowledge of principles of seismic design. Local governments should providequalified, properly trained and adequately funded building and buildingplan inspectors who have adequate resources to carry out their responsibilities.
- Local governments, with assistance from state or federal agencies,utilities, or other organizations, need to develop realistic earthquakescenarios to evaluate the vulnerability of their communities, to test emergencyresponse plans, and to gain insight for recovery plans.
- The federal government needs to maintain flexibility in recovery policyto react to changed conditions and to reflect the need for seismic hazardmitigation. Exact replacement is an unsound public policy. Government agenciesand professional and trade organizations should develop guidelines and standardsto guide earthquake repair in a way that provides for a variety of performancelevels. Federal procedures for awarding earthquake recovery funds shouldrequire that the federal contribution be used to restore the stricken communityto a functioning viable community that has improved seismic safety.
Since NEHRP was created several reviews and assessments have been conductedof the nation's earthquake risk reduction efforts. Appendix A summarizesseveral more recent and representative reviews. These reviews have identifiedfundamental areas of weakness together with a number of recommendationsto improve the national program. Table 1 provides an abbreviated summaryof the most frequently repeated recommendations, criticisms, challenges,and opportunities expressed by these recent NEHRP reviews.
Funding for Implementation The amount of funding for the NEHRP agencies has varied during the program'shistory. In Fiscal Year 1993 (FY 93) NEHRP's $93 million funding was distributedto FEMA (19%), USGS(48%), NSF (31%), and NIST (2%). Almost 80% of this fundingis focused on research into earthquake hazards and engineering techniquesto reduce earthquake losses. The advances generated by NEHRP-funded researchand development have provided the basis for a wide range of measures (suchas improved land use and building practices) which, if fully implemented,would substantially reduce future earthquake losses. Recognition of theseemerging capabilities has led earthquake experts, informed public officials,and to some extent the general public to call for a greatly expanded effortin implementation. This demand must be balanced against the cost of an expandedimplementation effort in the face of limited resources. Implementation ofloss-reduction measures to existing constructed facilities would requireseveral orders of magnitude more funds than are currently being expendedby the Federal government. Most mitigation practices must be voluntarilyadopted by bodies largely outside the control of the federal government.As a consequence, the degree of national earthquake risk reduction envisionedby many has not been achieved, a conclusion consistently voiced by advisorycommittees, expert witnesses, and assessment panels over the past severalyears.
Building Practices There is a widely held perception that seismic practices for buildings areintended to preserve property and functionality, when the principal purposeof most present building codes is occupant safety by avoiding building collapseor major failure. Earthquake catastrophes resulting in loss of life cangenerally be avoided for new construction. The cost of seismic safety forprotection of life rarely exceeds two percent of the construction cost forwell-designed new buildings. The greatest challenge for seismic safety innew building construction is educating the public, government regulators,owners, designers, and builders in seismic safety practices. This accomplished,practices for seismic safety can in many situations be applied at littleor no extra cost for design, construction, or operation. However, new constructionchanges the entire American building inventory by as little as one percenteach year. This means that the potential number of casualties, damaged buildings,and corresponding social/economic disruptions caused by earthquakes is reducedby only a very small percentage each year. Furthermore, the normal timerequired to research a new idea, move it through code acceptance and intowidespread practice can be more than a decade. Thus, even over several decades,earthquake loss reduction will be modest in much of the United States despiteany great breakthroughs which have or may occur in science and engineering--unlessgreater attention is given to improving the performance of existing buildingsand lifelines. Unfortunately, the cost of retrofitting buildings for seismicsafety is commonly more than costs for such measures during new construction.Costs are often of the same order as for functional or cosmetic renovations.A major FEMA-sponsored project is underway to provide a set of technicallysound, nationally applicable guidelines for the seismic rehabilitation ofbuildings that would assist in the development of building codes.
Other Federal Agencies Substantial funds to improve building safety, and to conduct research onearthquake hazard reduction, are spent by some non-NEHRP federal agencies.Agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense,Department of Energy, Department of Transportation (Federal Highway Administration),Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission all engage in substantialindependent hazard identification and risk reduction programs for theirmission-oriented programs, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) is active in earthquake process research as part of its Mission toPlanet Earth. However, the earthquake-related activities of these non-NEHRPagencies lack an integrating mechanism.
Incentives and the Federal Role What is the appropriate Federal role within the context of the Strategy?The initial NEHRP legislation envisioned the Federal role as that of a providerof information that would lead state and local governments, private concerns,and private citizens to take action in their own self interest. Subsequentamendments to the legislation added the roles of providing stimulation andpromotion of risk reduction actions. However the actual level of risk reductionactions such as the adoption of earthquake resistant building codes by localor state governments has not kept pace with expectation for the resultsof NEHRP. This gap between risk reduction action to date and expectationshas led to the recommendation from the Advisory Committee of the NationalEarthquake Hazard Reduction Program that NEHRP "incorporate a programmaticimplementation mechanism that creates strong incentives for the adoptionof earthquake risk reduction measures..." The Committee recommendedconsideration of tax credits, federal matching grants, requirements forrisk reduction action as a condition for Federal government support, anddisaster insurance. These recommendations raise questions about their impacton Federal revenue, Federal expenditures, and the Federal role with respectto the historical, if not the constitutional prerogatives, of state andlocal government. These issues are complex and require extensive analysisto assure that policies have the intended consequences; their resolutionwill likely require legislation. Some of these issues are currently beingaddressed by the Administration and the Congress as they explore feasiblepolicy options for encouraging the adoption and enforcement of buildingcodes the purchase, and adequacy of catastrophic insurance.