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Texas State EAS Plan Uploaded to FCC’s Alert Reporting System

TAB staff have met a July 5 FCC deadline to upload the Texas State Emergency Alert System (EAS) Plan to the commission’s new Alert Reporting System (ARS) on behalf of the FCC-created committee charged with maintaining and updating the plan.

State EAS Plans, which govern EAS operations and activation procedures in their respective states, must now be filed annually and receive the approval of the Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB).

The ARS was created as a means for the FCC to monitor all 50 state EAS plans in a uniform format, but does not include a complete state EAS plan.

The current version of the Texas State Plan includes certain background information and details that were not requested in the FCC filing and which provide additional guidance to Texas stations.  

As such, TAB will continue to keep the current Texas State EAS Plan document posted on the TAB website as a reference for all interested parties within the state. 

The FCC must now approve or disapprove Texas’ ARS filing and has 60 days to make its determination.  

The new FCC ARS requirement comes in response to congressional action on the nation’s EAS to promote the overall effectiveness of the system and ensure the public can receive potentially life-saving messages.

Congress passed the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act in 2020 to provide a stronger framework for emergency alerting responsibilities. 

The legislation was spurred by the false alert in Hawaii regarding an incoming ballistic missile that caused a public panic and resulted in one death. 

The bill also modified how the public receives emergency alerts through wireless and broadcast alert systems and added FEMA emergency alerts to those that cannot be blocked by mobile subscribers. Previously, only alerts from the President could not be blocked. 

In response, the FCC adopted regulations that encourage states to establish a State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC). 

Texas was already well ahead of Congress and the FCC, however, as its SECC has continued in existence since first being established by the FCC in 1996 which led to the creation of the first Texas State EAS Plan.

The FCC now requires each SECC to meet at least annually to review and update its state EAS plan.

In preparation for the FCC filing, TAB President Oscar Rodriguez, chair of the Texas SECC, convened a meeting of the committee to review the Texas State EAS Plan which was last revised in 2012 and approved by the FCC in 2018. 

Technical updates have since been made by TAB staff since 2012, but no substantive changes have been adopted. 

One suggested update to the Texas State EAS Plan from the recent SECC meeting is already in the works. National Weather Service representative Paul Yura, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with NWS’ Austin-San Antonio office in New Braunfels, suggested updating the list of NOAA weather radio stations in Texas that is contained in the current version of the Texas State EAS Plan.  

A revised list of NOAA weather radio stations serving Texas may be found here.

The Texas SECC is expected to meet again before the end of the year.

No National Emergency Alert Test This Year

TAB reminds stations that there will be no national EAS test in 2022 but look for one in the early part of 2023 according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA is said to be working on a new public survey system to determine how well U.S. citizens receive a national EAS message with the hope that the survey system will be place for the next national EAS test.

The survey will monitor both broadcast EAS and the Wireless Alert System (WEA).

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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