Thank you, Chairwoman Johnson. I also want to thank the Ranking Member of the Environment Subcommittee and my esteemed colleague from Oklahoma, Rep. Bice, for introducing this legislation.
Just last month, Oklahoma broke its previous record for the number of tornados in a single month. With 28 confirmed touchdowns, we had more tornados than the rest of the year combined. But there’s a bright side to this story: there were zero deaths resulting from these storms. That is due in large part to the prediction capabilities and advanced warning systems we have in place. The NOAA Weather Radio is one of the most prominent among them.
It is undeniable that the NWR saves lives. Day or night, power or no power, in a rural area or the heart of a city, a NWR device will loudly alert you and your family severe weather is on the way. Oklahomans have grown up listening to these announcements. We take them seriously and we act on them, and that saves lives. But some areas, especially those with extreme terrain or densely packed buildings, do not have the same widespread access to NOAA’s weather radio because of interference. Our ultimate goal should be for all U.S. citizens to have unimpeded access to the lifesaving alerts this system provides. That is why I fully support Rep. Bice’s legislation to expand and modernize the NOAA Weather Radio. In addition to access needs, aging infrastructure has led to increased maintenance costs and more weather radio outages. The copper wiring that connects broadcast transmitters to Weather Service stations is becoming obsolete and expensive. And more powerful storms require backup options and stronger signals in case of extensive damage to mission critical facilities.
This bill addresses all of those concerns and sets up the NWR to be just as useful in the 21st century as it has been since 1975 when it was designated the sole government provider of direct warnings to private homes.
I want to again thank the leadership of the Environment Subcommittee, Ranking Member Bice and Chairwoman Sherrill, for leading on this critical issue. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and yield back the balance of my time.