Press Releases

Rep. Porter Introduces Legislation to Better Protect Against Natural Disasters

Legislation would create an independent board to investigate natural disasters and recommend policy changes

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) is reintroducing legislation to better protect Californians by standardizing research on natural disasters. The Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act, co-led by Congressman John Garamendi (CA-03), would establish an independent board to review natural disasters and make recommendations on how to keep people safe. Companion legislation will be introduced by Senators Brian Schatz (HI) and Bill Cassidy (LA).

“Whether it’s earthquakes or wildfires, California families know how important it is that we are prepared against natural disasters,” Congresswoman Porter said. “With longer and more intense fire seasons, it’s more important than ever that lawmakers at every level of government have access to comprehensive research to make informed decisions about disaster preparedness. My legislation will create an independent board to closely examine and report on natural disasters, which will help keep families safe and save taxpayers money.”

Porter’s Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act would establish a National Disaster Safety Board (NDSB) modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board. The NDSB would be an independent, non-partisan agency responsible for studying preparedness and emergency response during natural disasters. It would break down the silos between federal, state, and local government and private industry to improve planning for future emergencies. 

“With climate change causing more frequent and severe natural disasters, we need more data to make sure our communities are resilient and prepared to respond to the next crisis,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill creates a new independent board to investigate major natural disasters and gives policymakers and the public a full accounting of what happened and what should happen next.”

“I was just in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, and it is clear, lessons have been learned from past hurricanes efforts that could help, but they have not been implemented. I proposed, with Senator Schatz, a Natural Disaster Safety Board to memorialize these lessons so that in future storms, wherever they may be, recovery of life and community is faster and better,” said Senator Cassidy.

The legislation is endorsed by numerous experts including former Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrators Brock Long and Craig Fugate, former Deputy Administrators Daniel Kaniweski and Richard Serino, former commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Bostic, and former president of the National Emergency Management Association Ellen Gordon. It is also endorsed by a number of organizations including the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, American Society of Civil Engineers, Enterprise Community Partners, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

"We need a systematic, coordinated process for learning from disasters, which are becoming more frequent and damaging due to climate change,” said Anna Weber, a policy analyst focused on climate resilience at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “This long overdue bill would help to address the disproportionate impacts that disasters have on communities of color, and make all of us safer through independent, fact-based reviews and recommendations.”

"With earthquakes posing an ever-present threat to Californian families, we must improve how we prepare for and learn from these natural hazards," said Dr. Lucy Jones, Caltech researcher and nationally recognized earthquake scientist. "As a seismologist and earthquake safety advocate, I'm proud to support the Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act because it will help equip communities with the information they need to stay safe when earthquakes do occur. We need a National Disaster Safety Board that can gather scientific data, assess where we are most vulnerable, and communicate earthquake safety recommendations across levels of government."

“The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) focuses on research to prevent avoidable damage from severe weather. Results captured in our lab are coupled with data gathered in the field to understand and demonstrate what makes buildings vulnerable, and how to build back better,” said Roy Wright, the President and CEO of Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. “Scaling IBHS’ work up through a new National Disaster Safety Board would be a milestone advancement in understanding how natural disasters become human disasters, and how we as a nation can become more resilient in the future.”

Throughout her time in Congress, Congresswoman Porter has made disaster safety a top priority. She recently urged her colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to consider advancing her Disaster Learning and Life Saving Act. During her first year in office, she hosted a town hall conversation for Orange County families on disaster preparedness with Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist and leading voice on earthquake safety. She has also repeatedly spoken out about the record number of wildfires in California and the urgent need to take immediate action against the climate crisis.