ShakeAlert is a promising program, but states most likely to be affected by earthquakes have argued that paying for the system is the federal government’s responsibility. California’s $10 million commitment is only a small contribution to a system that will cost an estimated $23 million to build and $12 million annually to operate in that state alone.

Earthquakes on the west coast are an unavoidable certainty, and the potential consequences of a big one are chilling. A system that could save thousands of lives when the next one inevitably occurs seems an inarguably sound investment.

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