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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sent a letter today to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to move forward with important steps to ensure the swift construction of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF).

"We urge you to continue to work with Congress, especially the Kansas and Missouri delegations, to ensure NBAF becomes a reality," the letter states. "This is not just an agriculture issue. Rather, the Department of Homeland Security was specifically chosen to handle this mission and its laboratories because of the direct implications such research and development hold for our country's security."

In the letter, the senators encourage Napolitano to quickly move forward with the land transfer from Manhattan, Kansas for the future site of NBAF now that all Congressional requirements regarding the updated Site Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA) have been met.

Currently, $90 million has been designated for the construction of NBAF. The senators also request an update from the secretary for release of these funds, saying a delay would not only result in increased costs for contracts, labor and materials, but also in an increased risk on our nation's security.

The complete text of the letter is pasted below:

Dear Madame Secretary:

We write today to encourage you to sign, without further delay, the land transfer from Manhattan, Kansas for the future site of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF).

Based on Congressional demands, your department has been unable to release the total $90 million appropriated thus far for construction of NBAF. However, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review released this week meets all the requirements enacted by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012. Having cleared this final hurdle, there is no reason for DHS to refrain from immediate release of $40 million for the Central Utilities Plant (CUP), followed by the remaining $50 million for general construction of the facility.

The National Academy of Sciences review has provided a positive outlook for the future of NBAF and validated a sound design, which goes above and beyond established regulatory standards and ensures heightened safety measures. NBAF proves to be the safest laboratory built of its kind to date and the risk of not moving forward with NBAF is a risk the American people should not have to accept. Academic and theoretical discussions of potential and unknown risks are important but should not hinder your department from taking action to address bio and agro-defense at the national level with NBAF. While we do not agree with every aspect of the review, we agree that NBAF is a necessary and critical asset for our country.

We urge you to continue to work with Congress, especially the Kansas and Missouri delegations, to ensure NBAF becomes a reality. Delays to the timeline only result in increased costs for contracts, labor, and materials. More importantly, delays result in an increased risk on our nation's security. This is not a Kansas issue. This is not just an agriculture issue. Rather, the Department of Homeland Security was specifically chosen to handle this mission and its laboratories because of the direct implications such research and development hold for our country's security. While we appreciate the past support you have shown the mission, it is your demonstrable future support that is essential to the security of our food supply.

Thank you for your time and attention on this issue. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your plan for meeting congressional intent on these previously appropriated funds for NBAF.


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