Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing on disaster recovery and infrastructure security. The events of September 11 have taken a huge toll on our nation. Everyone has been impacted, and these impacts are particularly acute around the Pentagon and in the New York metropolitan area, which includes many New Jersey communities.
The federal government has a major role to play in helping these communities get back on their feet. FEMA has spearheaded this effort, and I appreciate their hard work under difficult circumstances. I think that they have tried hard to work within the confines of the Stafford Act. But the Act did not contemplate the scope of this disaster or the unique challenges that it poses. So I think changes are necessary to make the federal government’s response more effective. I support Senator Clinton’s and Senator Jeffords proposals in this regard. I ask, however, that they will be willing to work with me to ensure that these proposals are responsive to the needs of New Jersey businesses, many of which literally operated in the shadows of the World Trade Center.
With respect to infrastructure security, I think we all recognize that our nation’s assets now need to be considered targets. We need to assess the potential threats to our water systems, nuclear power plants and chemical facilities and get on with the business of making them more secure. Staying ahead of the curve on these issues will be critical to preventing new types of terrorism from occurring. As we respond to the acts of terrorism that have already taken place, we need to anticipate and address a range of problems.
Yesterday I introduced legislation that addresses one such problem—threats to our chemical processing and distribution infrastructure. The bill would give the Administration new tools to help secure these assets against terrorist acts. Recent reports of the theft of methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide, from a Florida manufacturing facility underscore the need to act on this front. Senator Boxer and Senator Chafee have agreed to hold a hearing on this legislation next Wednesday, and I thank them for agreeing to this hearing on short notice. I think we need to act, and I pledge to work with my colleagues on the committee, the Administration, and industry to come up with proactive solutions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.