Although the president can declare a disaster without consulting the governor or local officials, the role of the federal government is largely advisory. It is the states and their counties, cities, and multi-city governments that must establish and carry out policy regarding earthquakes. The USGS can advise the governor about earthquakes, and NOAA can advise about tsunamis, but the final call must be from the governor and from local elected officials.
This chapter reviews the institutions that carry out earthquake policies in the three west coast states and the province of British Columbia. We start with California, which has experienced more losses from earthquakes in the last century and has dealt with them to a greater degree, than the other states or British Columbia. California is a pace-setter for fashion, music, and technology; it is also a pace-setter in strengthening society against earthquakes.