March 28, 2019

Hirono to Bernhardt: Moving Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to Oahu “Doesn’t Seem to Make a Lot of Sense”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono pressed Interior Secretary Nominee David Bernhardt to incorporate feedback from Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation and Big Island stakeholders before making any decision to relocate the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) to Oahu. Volcanic activity in 2018 damaged HVO’s facility at the summit of Kilauea beyond repair, and will need to be completely rebuilt.

From Senator Hirono’s Questioning:

Senator Hirono: “The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was completely destroyed as you know during the eruption. We obviously need to rebuild the facility and there are discussions of building it outside of the island on which actually there are active volcanoes. That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I would want to have your commitment that you will listen to the Congressional delegation as well as local stakeholders to put this observatory where the eruptions will likely occur.”

Interior Secretary Nominee David Bernhardt: “I have to say, I will absolutely look into that.”

Senator Hirono: “Let’s do things that make actual common sense.”

Earlier this month, President Trump signed Senator Hirono’s National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act into law as part of Natural Resources Management Act of 2019. Co-authored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Lisa Murkowski (D-Alaska), this newly-enacted law will improve our nation’s capacity to monitor and respond to volcanic activity across the country.

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