A powerful California congressman on Wednesday praised the federal government's grant that established an earthquake research center in Buffalo and predicted his state's delegation would not hinder a renewal of the grant in 1991.
The remarks of Democratic Rep. George E. Brown Jr. at a forum on earthquake research here came as a surprise because of the stiff fight put up by California's Sen. Pete Wilson, a Republican, against the grant given in 1986 to the University at Buffalo.
Without mentioning Wilson by name, Brown said the opposition to the National Science Foundation Grant might have been "political" and "parochial."
"I don't foresee any great opposition from the California delegation" to the renewal of the grant, Brown said.
Brown, 70, is the second-ranking Democrat on the House Science and Technology Committee, which reviews appropriations for the science foundation. He has been in Congress since 1962, and is chairman of a House agriculture subcommittee.
In response to a reporter's question, Brown said the foundation's $25 million grant to UB to establish the National Earthquake Engineering Research Center was "well founded and well deserved."
"The overall needs of the nation require a facility that is focusing on earthquake research needs in the eastern part of the U.S.," Brown said.
Appearing with Brown on the forum, which was sponsored by Atlantic magazine, was Dr. Ian Buckle, deputy director of the UB earthquake center, and Sen. Albert Gore Jr., D-Tenn.
Buckle pleaded for the establishment of a better database for earthquake risks in the East.
Buckle said the low loss of life in last October's Loma Prieta quake in the San Francisco Bay area testifies to the benefits of California's seismic provisions in codes on new construction. But the rest of the country is far behind, he said.
"We haven't begun to address the problem of codes for existing construction," he said. "We don't have all the technical answers for retrofit."
Buckle also is working as an earthquake engineering consultant for the California State Department of Transportation.
Gore propose taking from the Federal Emergency Management Agency the leadership role and giving it to the U.S. Geological Survey.