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Garamendi Introduces Bipartisan GPS Backup Bill to Safeguard National Security, Economy & Public Safety

March 26, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, introduced the bipartisan National Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Resilience and Security Act of 2015, H.R. 1678.

H.R. 1678 would require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of Transportation, to establish and sustain a reliable, land-based positioning and navigation system that will complement and backup America’s Global Positioning System (GPS) for military and civilian uses. It would take advantage of the government’s existing and underused long-range navigation system infrastructure, known as “LORAN”.

“GPS is much more than a LCD screen on your dashboard. It’s a technology used for much of our nation’s critical infrastructure and by almost every major industry in America, as well as the military, law enforcement, and first responders,” Garamendi said. “We are increasingly reliant on the precision, navigation, and timing services that GPS provides. From land navigation on cell phones to a timing source for our national infrastructure, we need a reliable backup system to GPS.”

“The National Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2015 is a bipartisan bill that would establish a system to backup GPS, making our nation’s geopositioning infrastructure more resilient to threats both natural and nefarious. A backup system could also reach places that GPS currently cannot, such as inside many buildings. This would help first responders and law enforcement more effectively protect the public,” he added.

The backup system required by H.R. 1678 would step in when GPS signals are corrupted, degraded, unreliable, or otherwise unavailable. It would take advantage of the government’s existing and underused long-range navigation system infrastructure. Unlike GPS, which relies on satellites, LORAN is ground-based, making it less susceptible to atmospheric interruption.

Our reliance on satellite based GPS signals for PNT data is a growing national economic and security liability because GPS signals can easily be jammed, spoofed, degraded or corrupted.

The terrestrial PNT system would use enhanced long range signals (eLORAN) from 19 towers around the country, each with approximately a 1,000 mile range providing overlapping fields from which a device can derive its location.

An eLORAN back up system would be “Made in America”, creating good jobs here in America. It would utilize remaining LORAN infrastructure and provide a secure and reliable cybersecurity insurance policy for pennies on the dollar for what is expended annually to fund GPS.

The bill is supported by a bipartisan coalition of House Members, including the current Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA-50), the former Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank Lobiondo (R-CA-02), and the Ranking Member (top Democrat) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04).

A prolonged disruption of the GPS system would cause a serious disruption to the American economy and threaten U.S. national security.

The U.S. atomic clock, accurate to one second in 300 million years, also serves as the base timing source for this backup GPS capability. This exceeds the timing needs of modern cell phones, creating an infrastructure backbone that is prepared to handle the evolution of consumer and industry electronic communications in the years ahead.

Since 2004, the Federal Government has recognized that the absence of a reliable backup system for GPS is a glaring economic and security threat to the United States, and has reaffirmed its interest in developing an eLORAN as a reliable, land-based backup for GPS signals. H.R. 1678 enables this important work to move forward.