Ma Delegation Urges Homeland Security Secretary To Re-evaluate Massachusetts Needs

Jul 31, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and a senior Democratic member of the Homeland Security Committee, today released a letter, signed by the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting a full explanation of the decreased homeland security funds the state is receiving  this year. On July 18th, DHS announced that Massachusetts will receive approximately $7 million less in homeland security grants for first responders this fiscal year. In addition, DHS has ranked the Boston area at their secondary “Tier 2” risk level despite its sizeable population, extensive transportation infrastructure and critical assets that require enhanced security.

 

Representative Edward J. Markey (MA-07), who organized the letter, said, “Boston is key to the economic vitality of Massachusetts and the entire New England region. Our busy cargo port drives commercial activities not only around the state and region, but also around the world. Our port is also home to the nation’s only urban liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation terminal, which presents special security risks and costs. I am extremely disappointed that the Department has excluded Boston from its list of top tier urban areas receiving supplemental security funding, and the letter we are sending today seeks an explanation and a re-evaluation of the Department’s decision-making process so that Massachusetts receives the level of funding it needs.” 

 

“The Department’s decision to cut homeland security assistance to Massachusetts makes no sense when you consider the unique risks we face, and the people of Massachusetts deserve an explanation,” Senator Edward M. Kennedy said.

 

“It is unacceptable that DHS has again cut counterterrorism funding for Boston and slashed aid statewide for law enforcement.  Our communities depend on this funding to train and equip thousands of first responders and enhance security.  I’m especially concerned that DHS continues to leave Boston off its list of top-tier cities that are at risk – cities like New York and Washington – that is uses to distribute funding, and that is why I’ve introduced an amendment requiring the GAO to investigate how risk assessments are made.  DHS needs to wake up and inject some common sense into its decision making process. I promise to continue working with my colleagues to get to the bottom of the Department’s classification process and do all I can to make sure Massachusetts isn’t shortchanged again,” said Senator John Kerry.

 

Representative Stephen Lynch (MA-09), member of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said, “Lowering the security profile for the Greater Boston area and slashing homeland security funding for Massachusetts is an attack on common sense.  Look, we've had terrorists come off LNG tankers through the Port of Boston; we've had two of the planes used in the terrorist attacks on September 11th emanate from Logan Airport; we have a major commercial port that annually sees over 1,800 vessel calls and handles over 15 million tons of cargo that is transported through densely settled residential communities - a situation that our experience confirms is a high risk terrorist target – this is more than a 'gut feeling.' We call on Secretary Chertoff to re-examine the evidence and immediately correct this serious lapse in judgment.”

 

The members’ letter was signed by Sens. Kennedy and Kerry and Reps. Markey, Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tierney, Capuano, Lynch and Delahunt. The text of the letter follows.

 

#  #  #

 

 

July 27, 2007

 

 

The Honorable Michael Chertoff

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C. 20528

 

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

 

We are writing to express our strong concern and disappointment following the announcement that Massachusetts will receive significant cuts in homeland security funding in Fiscal Year 2007.  We also note that in FY07, Boston was designated a Tier 2 metropolitan area, representing the Department of Homeland Security’s assessment that it faces lower security risks than the Tier 1 areas.  We strongly disagree with this conclusion.  The Department’s classification of the Boston area in Tier 2 is inconsistent with the sizeable population in the greater Boston region, extensive transportation infrastructure and additional critical assets that require enhanced funding and should qualify the Boston region as a Tier 1 metropolitan area for purposes of the homeland security grant program.

 

The Boston area’s inclusion in Tier 2 significantly limited the potential funding it could receive in FY07, as 43 cities in Tier 2 were competing for 45 percent of the $750 million total, compared to only 7 metropolitan areas in Tier 1 that will share the majority of the FY07 funding. Accordingly, we request a full explanation of the Department of Homeland Security's grant funding allocation decisions for the FY 2007 round of Homeland Security Grant Program for Massachusetts.  We also request that the Department reconsider its designation of the Boston area within Tier 2 and include it among the top high-risk cities within Tier 1.

 

We recognize the Department’s need to make difficult funding choices.  Nevertheless, we believe that Massachusetts faces unique security challenges, and homeland security grant levels should be commensurate with the severity of these challenges.  Specifically, Boston is home to industries that are key to the economic vitality of Massachusetts and the entire New England region.  Our busy cargo port, containing the nation’s only urban liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation terminal, drives commercial activities not only around the state and region, but also around the world.  Critical infrastructure and iconic American symbols make Massachusetts an attractive terrorist target.  As you know, more than five years ago, Boston’s Logan Airport was the launch point for the two planes that struck the World Trade Center towers on September 11th, and one of the terrorists involved in the foiled Millennium Plot that targeted Los Angeles International Airport, Abdelghani Meskini, infiltrated our country aboard an LNG tanker that docked at the terminal in Everett, MA.

 

Massachusetts will receive approximately $34 million in homeland security grants for first responders this fiscal year.  This represents a $7 million, or 17 percent, reduction from last year.  Although the overall funding level for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) remained approximately the same in FY07 compared to last fiscal year, the Boston region’s share declined by 22 percent.  Moreover, Boston received the 9th largest cut in UASI funding over this same time period.  We believe that the Boston area, with its high population density and considerable critical infrastructure that already has been targeted by terrorists, should receive a share of federal security funding that is consistent with the heightened security risks we face. 

 

Please provide a detailed written explanation of how the Department arrived at its funding allocation decisions for Massachusetts’ share of these programs as well as why the Department designated the Boston area in Tier 2.  If you have any questions or concerns, please have your staff contact Mark Bayer or Michal Freedhoff at 202-225-2836 in Rep. Markey’s office.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

______________________                                                                ______________________

Edward Markey                                                                                   Edward M. Kennedy

 

 

 

______________________                                                                ______________________

Barney Frank                                                                                       John F. Kerry

 

 

 

______________________                                                                ______________________

Richard E. Neal                                                                                    John W. Olver                         

 

 

 

______________________                                                                ______________________

James P. McGovern                                                                             William D. Delahunt                             

 

 

______________________                                                                ______________________

Michael E. Capuano                                                                             John F. Tierney                                    

 

 

______________________                                       

Stephen F. Lynch

 

 

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