Jindal Questions Secretary Chertoff on Port Fourchon Funding and a Possible Regional Office in Louisiana
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security testifies before House oversight committee
Washington, Jul 25 - Congressman Bobby Jindal (LA-01) today used the opportunity of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security, of which Congressman Jindal is a member, to talk about the need to recognize the critical nature of Port Fourchon, the possibility of locating a Homeland Security Regional Office in Louisiana, and ensuring that First Responders have everything they need to combat both natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
"Trying to gauge risk to ports is an ongoing challenge," Jindal said during the hearing. "I recently visited Port Fourchon in Louisiana through which 15 million tons of cargo are moved a year. The port handles over 1.3 million barrels of oil daily and is responsible for 16 to 18% of the U.S.'s total oil supply. Yet, the port is not among the list of the 66 highest risk ports in the country. Is the Department taking steps to better define its assessment strategy?"
The question began a discussion on the need to secure not only ports surrounded by large population centers, but also those ports whose activities play a major in driving our nation's economy. The fact that Port Fourchon is not considered as high risk actually prevents security money from being direct towards its protection. Secretary Chertoff assured the Congressman, and the committee, that he would investigate the manner in which Port Fourchon was classified and how the port might be better protected.
Additionally, Congressman Jindal has long focused on the need to create a regional office structure within the Department of Homeland Security which would create a stronger plat¬form to lead national efforts, set priorities, identify critical vulnerabilities, and coordinate state, local, and private-sector entities in order to protect the homeland from terrorist attacks. He has also pushed to locate a regional office in Louisiana, which is home to regional headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Border Patrol and has access to the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River.
"Mr. Secretary, you indicated the need for further focus and assessment on coordination and consolidation." Jindal continued in his questioning. "What is being done to link the DHS headquarters with the needs in the field to facilitate coordination on state and local levels? Do you see regional offices acting as fusion centers to better consolidate and coordinate efforts with state, local and private stakeholders?"
Congressman Jindal had just completed a visit to Port Fourchon as part of a weeklong, statewide Homeland Security tour, which included stops at the State Police's Fusion Center in Baton Rouge and the Waterford 3 nuclear power plant in Taft. He is the Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks.