Maria is committed to ensuring that every community in Washington has the resources and tools it needs to keep families safe. She has been a champion of the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which help equip and enable local law enforcement to address drug offenders and gangs. She has led on groundbreaking legislation to fight the epidemic of methamphetamines. She has consistently fought to improve first responders’ ability to communicate with each other and the public in emergencies. And Maria secured a critical investment to build a Doppler radar in Grays Harbor to close a blind spot in weather coverage and protect Washingtonians from deadly storms.

Fighting Crime in Washington Communities      

Maria has been a Congressional champion for crucial crime-fighting programs that enable Washington law enforcement agencies to fight drug trafficking, reduce drug-related crimes, and take on gangs.

Washington state’s local law enforcement leaders describe Maria as “on the forefront of advocating for us” in her work to provide vital resources to protect communities. With states across the country facing major budget shortfalls, local law enforcement agencies face potential setbacks in crime-fighting programs. Maria continues to work to ensure that first responders have the tools they need to combat drugs and gangs.

  • Providing Local Law Enforcement with the Tools they Need: Washington communities depend on local drug task forces and anti-crime programs to keep families safe. Maria has been a leading advocate for the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, an indispensable tool for Washington law enforcement.

    Maria fought to reverse years of Bush administration cuts to Byrne/JAG programs, and has continued to fight for the programs under the Obama administration. JAG programs create a partnership between state and local governments to tailor crime-fighting strategies to stop the manufacturing, distribution and use of illegal drugs. JAG has also been a catalyst for major innovations in crime control, including drug courts, gang prevention strategies, and prisoner re-entry programs.

    Maria led a bipartisan coalition in 2012 urging appropriators in Congress to continue to provide robust support for this critical crime-fighting program, calling JAG “the cornerstone federal crime-fighting program.” Maria led similar bipartisan efforts in 2011, successfully fighting to preserve federal investment of in law enforcement initiatives.
  • Maria ‘on the Forefront’ of Fighting for Tri-Cities JAG Programs: JAG programs support  the coordinated Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force, which allows the Tri-Cities police departments to work together in fighting narcotics and protecting communities. When budget cuts and potential JAG cuts threatened to scale back the task force, Maria worked to support the program that provides Tri-Cities police with the necessary support to stop gangs and drugs.

    Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg praised Cantwell’s efforts in the Tri-City Herald:

    “’Metro [Drug Task Force] really does play a really important role in keeping the Tri-Cities safe as a whole,’ Hohenberg said. ‘It really is about safety – not only for our officers but also for citizens.’ Hohenberg said there was a push in the state to let senators know the need for additional funding, but Cantwell was ‘already on the forefront of advocating for us.’”
  • Keeping Pierce County Safe: Maria’s leadership on supporting JAG means continued support for a crucial tool used by Pierce County law enforcement to keep criminals off the street. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, “In the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, we appreciate Senator Cantwell’s efforts to preserve grants that give us additional resources to prosecute violent street gangs and protect public safety.”
  • Protecting the Coast from Drug-Trafficking: Maria led on Senate legislation that empowers the Coast Guard to track down potential drug-smuggling vessels, and increases penalties on smugglers. In September 2008, the Senate passed the bipartisan Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act, which Maria proudly cosponsored. The law allows the Coast Guard to identify vessels that could be a threat, based on a mandatory identification system that requires boats to prove legal registration and license in order to enter coastal waters. The law also increases the penalties for those convicted of violating smuggling laws in America’s waterways. 

Targeting Gang Violence

  • Cracking Down on Gangs: Maria has been a leader on efforts to keep youth out of gangs and protect Washington communities from the growing problem of gang violence.

    Maria has repeatedly worked to pass the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act, cosponsoring legislation in 2007 and again in 2009 to combat violence in gang-riddled communities. 

    During a series of meetings that Maria held with hard-hit Washington communities, local law enforcement officials expressed concern over lack of enforcement and prevention methods to keep Washington youth out of gangs.

    The bipartisan legislation – backed by the National Association of Police Organizations – would provide support in areas with high-gang violence, target at-risk youth for gang intervention and prevention initiatives, and improve the coordination of anti-gang efforts.

    The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act would also establish new criminal gang offenses, strengthen the punishment for existing crimes, and enact measures to keep repeat gang criminals and violent gang members behind bars.

Fighting Crime on Indian Reservations               

  • Delivering Crime-fighting Tools to Tribes: With violent crime among the American Indian population more than 2.5 times the national average, Maria has made it a priority to bolster tribal law and justice programs to ensure tribal law enforcement officials have the necessary tools to protect communities.

    As a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Maria fought to pass key legislation that improves law enforcement coordination to protect tribal communities. In 2009 Maria cosponsored and helped pass the Tribal Law and Order Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. This law brings together federal, state and local law enforcement with tribal law enforcement authorities to combat crime.

    The Tribal Law and Order Act also improved training for tribal law enforcement officials, provided better protection and support for victims of domestic abuse, strengthened the tribal court system, and improved programs to prevent substance and alcohol abuse.

    Several tribal officials from Washington state testified before Maria and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about the need for better solutions to reservation crime. Their testimony helped shape the Tribal Law and Order Act. Read more here. 
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Maria has consistently led efforts to take on the meth epidemic, which has harmed numerous Washington communities. She helped pass the bipartisan Combat Meth Act of 2005 that was signed into law in 2006, and the Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act of 2008. These landmark bills increased penalties for meth dealers, made it harder for drug producers to access meth ingredients at pharmacies, and created the meth Hot Spots program to help law enforcement tackle the meth problem head-on.

Meth is not an isolated problem and it will not disappear on its own. Washington is sixth in the country in meth production and first in the number of children found on raided sites. In 2004, authorities discovered more than 1,300 Washington state meth sites, and linked 220 Washington fatalities to the drug. These aren’t just numbers. They’re parents, children, and families.”  Senator Maria Cantwell, 3/2/06

The Meth Epidemic 

  • The Toll of Meth in Washington: In 2005 the National Drug Intelligence Center found that the “production, transportation, distribution and abuse of methamphetamine are the primary drug threat to the Pacific Region.”  At the time, Washington had the highest amount of federal seizures of methamphetamine of any states in the Pacific, and Washington had higher levels of availability of the drug resulting in lower prices than any other state.

    Washington first responders have been forced to combat one of the most serious methamphetamine crises in the nation. Washington’s meth epidemic hit a dangerous peak in 2001, when there were 1,890 reported meth labs and dump sites in the state. This meth epidemic affected Washington families and communities, and came at a steep cost. In 2004 alone, fighting meth cost Washington state $50 million– from programs to deter meth use, treating meth addiction, and cleaning up meth labs. Meth programs have cracked down on meth trafficking—but meth demand, production and availability remains high.

    Read more about meth in Washington.
  • Empowering the State’s Meth Task Force: Maria has fought to maintain robust support for the nationally renowned Washington State Meth Initiative, which was established in 1999 to unite all meth-fighting initiatives under one comprehensive and integrated program. Less than a decade after its inception, the Washington State Meth Initiative reduced the number of illicit meth labs and dump site discoveries by 92 percent, and drastically reduced the availability and supply of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies have undertaken major efforts to combat meth production and use nationwide. However, the most effective approach to addressing this national problem has come through federal, state, and local partnerships.

    Since entering the Senate, Maria has consistently worked to support a cooperative law enforcement system that benefits from federal investment but also empowers state and local agencies to keep communities safe from meth trafficking.

    Maria also led Senate efforts to pass legislation that created a national Meth Prevention Week to help raise awareness of the meth epidemic nationwide.  

Passing Landmark Laws to Combat Meth

“Washington state once was a posterchild for the meth epidemic… Now the state is the poster child for the meth fight done right.” National Meth Center

  • Combat Meth Act: In 2006, Maria cosponsored and helped pass the bipartisan Combat Meth Act, which helped Washington law enforcement officials reduce meth-related crimes and keep the dangerous drug off the streets.

    The law increased penalties for meth users and dealers, restricted the sale of products used to produce meth, provided support to those affected by meth use, and gave new tools to law enforcement officials working to combat meth. 

    The Combat Meth Act and Washington state initiatives have been successful in reversing meth trends and preventing youth from becoming users. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services released a 2010 report citing significant headway in combating meth: Between 2006 and 2008 the number of Washington high school seniors who reported having tried meth in their lifetime declined by 21 percent. Youth treatment admissions for meth also declined by nearly 73 percent from 2006 to 2009. Read the report here.

    Maria has also been a strong advocate for the Meth Hot Spots program, a major component of the Combat Meth Act that strengthens local law enforcement efforts to keep meth out of their communities. The Hot Spots sets up community programs to clean up meth labs and train law enforcement officials to investigate and convict meth offenders.
  • Moving Meth Ingredients off the Shelves: Methamphetamines create a unique challenge for law enforcement, since the ingredients used for meth production are found in common medicines available at pharmacies. The Combat Meth Act moved the ingredients used to produce meth - including pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine - behind pharmacy counters and out of drug users’ hands.

Preventing the Production of Meth

  • Alerting Law Enforcement to Meth Labs: To further strengthen law enforcement’s ability to track down meth producers, Maria cosponsored the Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act in 2008. This law created electronic logbooks that monitor people stockpiling meth ingredients. The law limits the amount of meth-ingredient medicines that one person can purchase to 9 grams per month and 3.6 grams per day. Monitoring these purchases is a crucial tool to end the production of meth and detect meth labs.

    After President George W. Bush signed the bill into law Maria said, “Electronic logbooks will go a long way toward stopping the criminals who pass through several stores to build up illegal stockpiles of these medicines... Our law enforcement will gain a valuable new tool to further reduce the number of meth labs in our state."
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Supporting Washington Police and Firefighters

  • Putting Cops on the Beat to Protect Washington Communities: Maria is a longtime supporter of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, leading Senate efforts to ensure the program has the necessary support. COPS gives state and local law enforcement agencies the resources they need to keep Washington communities safe. COPS grants enabled Washington law enforcement agencies to hire 1,900 more officers and purchase $22 million worth of technology from 1994 to 2007.

    In 2007, when President George W. Bush threatened to veto COPS funding, Maria fought hard to preserve this key program to keep police on the beat in our communities.
  • Supporting Washington Firefighter Jobs: Maria has supported programs that help Washington Fire departments remain adequately staffed and ensure they have the personnel and equipment they need to protect Washingtonians. 

    In 2009 Maria voted to pass legislation that enabled fire departments to improve and build new fire stations needed to support the emergency response efforts of Washington firefighters. Maria has also supported Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant funding to hire and recruit more fire fighters, Fire Prevention and Safety grants for fire prevention, and Assistance to Firefighters Grants funding for safety equipment facility upgrades, and fought to pass legislation ensuring that all wildland firefighters get the training they need to stay safe.
  • Improving Emergency Response at Snoqualmie Pass: Maria led the charge on passing legislation that enabled Snoqualmie Pass to open a new fire station in 2011 and meet the heavily trafficked region’s growing emergency response needs.

    “I was proud to have championed the Snoqualmie Pass Land Conveyance Act so that the necessary land was available to build this urgently needed state-of-the-art facility,” Maria said, applauding the opening of the new station in July 2011. “This new station will enable faster response times, greater emergency preparedness, and allow the volunteer fire fighters to more safely and efficiently respond to emergencies.”

    The Snoqualmie Fire District serves a portion of King and Kittitas counties on both sides of the Cascade Mountains and a community of 350 full-time residents that peaks to 1,500 during the ski season. The district is home to one of the busiest mountain highways in the nation; during peak season, nearly 60,000 vehicles travel through the fire district. Between fires, mud slides, avalanches, winter storms, automobile accidents and traffic, the Snoqualmie Fire District plays an extremely important role in emergency response.

    But by 2008, the Fire District’s volunteer firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians were stretched too thin. Maria worked hand-in-hand with local officials to make sure that Snoqualmie Fire District could protect thousands of residents and highway travelers from emergencies. Her legislation, passed in 2009, transferred federal land to the Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue department to build a new station. Following the bill’s passage Maria stated,We are now better positioned to help maintain the safety of our communities, protect these pristine areas of Washington state, and invest in the future of the Pass.”

    Chris L. Caviezel, Chairman of the Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue said,Today’s vote by the U.S. Senate brings us one step closer to replacing a Fire Station that serves thousands of people that pass over I-90 each day... Once our new station is built, it will allow us to serve in a much better capacity the citizens of Washington state who rely on Interstate-90 for cross state travel and enjoy Snoqualmie Pass recreation areas.”

Improving Communication Tools for Emergency Responders

When responding to emergencies, every minute counts. Effective communication systems can make a critical difference for police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

But even a decade after September 11th, many first responders are still equipped with radio systems that cannot communicate time-sensitive information across jurisdictions. This challenge is especially significant for border states like Washington, where public safety organizations coordinate communications with Canada on a daily basis.

Maria has been a leader in improving technology that allows first responders to communicate during emergencies and save lives. She supported legislation that will create a nationwide broadband network, which allows first responders to share crucial voice, video, and data. That legislation was part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act President Barack Obama signed into law in 2012.

"We need to take advantage of the newest technology to make sure America's first responders can communicate with one another effectively. This is not only key during major events like the Olympics, but critical for saving lives during disasters,” – Senator Maria Cantwell, 2/8/2007

  • Improving the Coordination of Public Safety Communications with Canada: Maria led efforts to improve the coordination of public safety communications with Canada. Using recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report Maria championed provisions that led to the improved coordination of public safety spectrum in border regions between the U.S. and Canada.  

    In preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Maria wrote and helped to pass legislation that required the Department of Homeland Security to bring together federal agencies with Pacific Northwest state governments to develop a regional plan for first responders’ coordination with their Canadian counterparts.

    The implemented plan ultimately enabled Washington public safety personnel to coordinate communications with Canadian first responders across several frequency bands and helped keep all of the visitors, attendees, and athletes safe throughout the games. 

    “These smart, practical steps are critical to keeping our border traffic moving, and, most importantly, ensuring the safety of our residents,” Maria said, after Congress passed her legislation in 2006.

    “Senator Cantwell has been on the front lines of helping us be prepared for this event and everyone from the Washington State Patrol to my own fire chief in San Juan County is grateful,” said David Billstrom, a San Juan County volunteer firefighter and EMT, and CEO of National Interop—a Pacific Northwest company that created a coordinated emergency communication system on the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Helping Close Law Enforcement Communication Gaps on the Peninsula: Maria has led efforts to improve communications on the Olympic Peninsula, where geographic obstacles such as the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca often obstruct communication signals. Throughout 2009 and 2010, Maria facilitated the creation and subsequent meetings of a multijurisdictional task force to identify gaps in law enforcement communication occurring on the Peninsula. The task force discovered that U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement were unable to communicate because their radios operated in different frequency bands. Maria worked with then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to ensure that there was a strong plan in place to support and improve coordination among local, state, and federal first responders on the Olympic Peninsula.

    Maria also worked with then-Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin, as well as the Clallam County Sheriff’s department and other local law enforcement on the Peninsula to secure radios that expand communication capabilities between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
  • Improving Coordination to Track Felons across State Lines:  On November 29th, 2009, four Lakewood police officers - Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards - were murdered by a convicted felon who had been living in Washington state after being released from prison in Arkansas.

    In light of the Lakewood tragedy, Maria cosponsored a 2010 bill to strengthen existing laws governing the release and supervision of convicted felons across state lines. The legislation would improve information-sharing between all levels of law enforcement, and would require the Department of Justice to review rules for interstate transfers of adult offenders.
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Protecting Washington’s Children

  • Protecting Children from Sexual Predators: In 2006, Maria was a leader in the effort to pass the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which improved interstate tracking of sex offenders. The law helps to prevent sex offenders from moving to other states to evade tracking. It also increases penalties for violent sex crimes committed against children, and requires that sex offenders register prior to release from prison or supervised programs. Since the Adam Walsh Act’s passage, Maria has consistently voted to ensure full support for its essential child protection programs.

    Urging her colleagues to pass the Adam Walsh Act, Maria said, Our communities need better information about sex offenders in our neighborhoods, which is exactly what this will do… Tougher punishments are also critical if we’re going to prevent tragic consequences.”
  • Tougher Sentencing for Child Sex Offenders: Maria voted to pass the Prosecuting Remedies and Tools against the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act. The PROTECT Act strengthens sentencing guidelines for criminals convicted of sexual crimes against children, and restricts judges from departing from federal sentencing guidelines in child or sex crime cases.

Ending Hate Crimes

  • Landmark Legislation to Stop Hate Crimes: Maria has consistently supported legislation to crack down on hate crimes. During the fall of 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Maria helped pass through the Senate (P.L. 111-84). This law extended equal justice for hate crimes to victims targeted or attacked because of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    “I have long felt that any crime against the GLBT community must be prevented and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This amendment will give state and local governments the support of federal authorities, and will send a message that these heinous crimes won't be tolerated." – Senator Maria Cantwell

Preventing Violence against Women

Washington law enforcement receives 30,000 domestic violence calls a year on average, and in any given day in 2011, domestic violence programs served 1,884 people in Washington state.

Maria has been a leader in protecting women from abuse, improving the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2005, and passing groundbreaking rules to stop “mail order brides” from being exploited. VAWA plays a vital role in providing law enforcement and local governments with the tools needed to protect the victims of domestic violence.

  • Landmark Law to Protect Women: Maria led Congressional efforts to expand the Violence Against Women Act in 2005, and she has since fought to extend and pass critical improvements to the law. First created in 1994, this historic law set up a new framework to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and many other forms of abuse against women.

    The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 significantly expanded efforts to protect women from violence. The law imposed strict penalties for interstate stalking and domestic abuse and strengthens penalties for repeat sexual offenders. It also bolstered efforts to combat rape and sexual assault, improving rape education programs and support services for children, teens and battered women.

    Maria said, Domestic violence destroys families and we need to put a stop to it. This new law delivers more resources and help to the women and children who need it most."
  • Protecting Thousands Of “Mail Order Brides” From Exploitation: In late 2005 Maria helped Congress pass groundbreaking regulations with greater protections for “mail order brides.” President George W. Bush signed the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act in January 2006. Part of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 (VAWA), the law provides foreign fiancées with background information on their potential spouses and information on domestic violence resources to protect themselves and consider their safety when making marriage choices.

    Maria stated, “This law builds on past lessons, putting in place vital safeguards to protect women from abuse and exploitation. Foreign-born fiancées deserve to know about their rights here in the United States, and need information about whether their potential spouse has a history of violent crime.”

Protecting Personal Information

  • Protecting Americans’ Private Information: While the United States is a leading innovator of advanced technologies, laws have to keep up with constantly changing technology to protect the privacy of all Americans.  Maria led efforts to move the nation forward and establish national standards for information-sharing that make security and privacy a top priority. In 2006, Maria cosponsored legislation that protects millions of American consumers against the black-market sale of cell phone records. The bipartisan Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act makes it illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain an individual’s phone records without his or her permission. The House version of this bill, which passed through the Senate with Maria’s support, became law in January 2007.
  • Fighting Identity Theft: Maria introduced and helped to pass the bipartisan Identity Theft Victims Assistance Act through the Senate in 2003, and she worked to include and pass key provisions from her bill in the Fair Credit Report Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2003.

    Maria’s provisions created a standardized process for people to establish themselves as victims of identity theft, and allows law enforcement to act as the victim’s agent in obtaining business records. Maria has also successfully pushed measures to investigate the link between meth crimes and other criminal activity, including identity theft. 

     “The Cantwell amendment will guarantee that victims won't face the catch-22 of trying to clear their names without proof of the fraudulent transactions.” – Washington Public Interest Research Group, 12/1/03
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Storm and Flood Preparedness

  • Improving Disaster Readiness for Washington: Maria helped to close a deadly blind spot in weather forecasting by leading efforts to build Washington’s first coastal Doppler radar in Grays Harbor. On September 29, 2011, Maria declared the Doppler operational.

    The new radar is the first fully operational Doppler radar in the nation equipped with dual polarization—technology that enables forecasters to better view, track, and predict incoming storms.  The speed and accuracy of Washington’s new Doppler will allow coastal communities to prepare for storms like never before.

    Maria has championed efforts to improve weather forecasting in the Pacific Northwest and provide crucial satellite coverage to protect the state from catastrophic flooding and storms. As Chair of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee, she requested a report that proved the gaping blind spot in weather radar coverage over the outer coast of Washington state. In 2010 Maria successfully led Congress to pass legislation to develop a new radar system for the Pacific coastline.

    The Washington coast is vulnerable to some of the strongest storms in the nation, including dangerous hurricane force winds, flooding and landslides. Between December 1 and December 3, 2007, three consecutive storms hit Washington’s coast, claiming the lives of 14 people and causing $1 billion in damage. The damage of the 2007 storms highlighted the need to improve radar coverage and warning systems. The new Doppler takes a major step to help residents better prepare for storms.

    Dr. Cliff Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, praised the new Doppler system. He said, “This new radar is going to profoundly improve our understanding of Northwest weather and our ability to forecast it… And when the weather prediction models are mistaken, this radar peering out hundreds of miles into the Pacific will provide six to 12 hours of warning which we might not have had before."

    Watch a KBTC video about Washington’s new Doppler.
  • Emergency Relief: Maria is committed to getting state and local governments the equipment and support they need to mitigate the risks of natural disasters and protect Washington state residents. Maria has consistently fought to ensure that Washington has full access to federal emergency relief efforts, including the full support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal agencies.

    Maria has long advocated for relief for victims, flood preparedness and improved weather forecasting to keep Washington residents safe. She has encouraged efforts to develop basin-wide flood mitigation strategies to minimize the dangers of flooding across Washington. These programs help to protect high-risk areas including the Skagit River Basin, the Green River Basin, and the Chehalis River Basin.
  • Protecting the Green River Valley: The Green River Valley is home to 450,000 residents, 4,500 businesses and 100,000 jobs. A flood on the Green River would be devastating to the economy of the surrounding area. When the Howard Hanson Dam was originally found to be at risk for failure, Maria worked to mitigate flooding in the Green River Valley. She fought to make sure that interim measures were taken to mitigate the risk of floods until a permanent fix could be implemented. She also helped urge Senate appropriators to provide support for local first responders who provide vital emergency response efforts for the Green River Valley and for funding to fix the dam.

    Find out about more about Howard Hanson protection.  

Coastal Earthquake Monitoring

Washington is vulnerable to damaging earthquakes and tsunamis, with the Cascadia Subducton Zone just 50 miles offshore. The Nisqually earthquake in 2001 registereda 6.7 magnitude, and provided a stark reminder of the potential dangers of earthquakes in the Puget Sound region. Maria has worked to ensure that first responders have the resources and tools needed to help warn and protect Washingtonians during potential earthquakes and tsunamis. 

  • Protecting the Pacific from Tsunamis: Maria led efforts to create a global tsunami warning system, working to pass the bipartisan Tsunami Preparedness Act through the Senate in 2005.This bill, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006,helps protect 45,000 Washingtonians who live within a mile of the Pacific coastline. 

    The Tsunami Preparedness Act expedited the repair of three damaged tsunami detection buoys, including one buoy off the coast of Washington. The law also improved tsunami detection programs to cover more terrain, and increased support for monitoring programs that rely on technology developed at Seattle’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

    But some Washington communities remain particularly vulnerable to tsunamis and flooding. In February 2012, Maria played a key role in passing legislation to move the Quileute Tribe out of a tsunami zone, and in 2009 Maria helped to pass legislation moving the Hoh Tribe away from a dangerous flood zone. 

    “The threat of tsunamis is a harsh reality that the Quileutes have faced every day on its small reservation along the Pacific coast,” said U.S. Representative Norm Dicks (WA-6).“The recent tragedy on the Japanese coast is a reminder of the enormous power of these waves underscores the importance of passing this legislation as soon as possible so the Tribe can move to safer ground outside the tsunami zone.”

    Read more about Maria’s efforts to protect Washington tribes from natural disasters.
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