US senators propose bill to improve volcano monitoring

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - U.S. senators in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii have proposed legislation intended to improve volcano monitoring efforts and early warning capabilities.

The measure would put the Alaska, Cascades and Hawaiian volcano observatories into a connected system and create a 24-hour Volcano Watch Office to provide ongoing situational awareness of active volcanoes in the U.S. and its territories.

A Senate energy committee release says the Alaska Volcano Observatory has long been underfunded and is among the busiest observatories in the world. The Cascades observatory, in Washington, monitors volcanoes in that state, Oregon and Idaho, and two of the more active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, are monitored by the Hawaiian observatory.

The bill is from Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, all energy committee members.