Senator Bob Smith
Ranking Member, Environment & Public Works Committee
November 1, 2001
Mr. Chairman, Thank you for conducting this hearing.
The attacks of September 11, left this nation with a number of questions dealing with preparedness and security measures.
A couple of weeks ago we heard from FEMA Director Allbaugh and emergency responders about the response in New York and at the Pentagon -- and what lessons were learned.
Today we take the next step. We are here to consider legislative proposals not only to help prevent further attacks, but also to be better prepared if the unthinkable should happen again.
This committee has a number of agencies within our jurisdiction that play vital roles in both security and response--and we will exercise our responsibility to ensure that these agencies have all the tools necessary to perform their jobs.
I am pleased to welcome the witnesses here today - some of whom I have spent a good deal of time with recently. Assistant Secretary Sampson joined me about a month ago in New Hampshire to discuss economic development options in Berlin and Gorham.
A couple of weeks ago I met with Mike Brown of FEMA to discuss my terrorism preparedness legislation and FEMA’s role in terrorism response. And just last night I sat down with Chairman Meserve of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss nuclear security issues, especially those dealing with Seabrook Station in New Hampshire.
I want to thank you all for working closely with me on issues of great importance, both to New Hampshire and the nation. You all play important roles in our national preparedness efforts.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our current security situation and what needs to be done in order for the American people to have the utmost confidence in this nation’s ability to protect our vital infrastructure against further terrorist attacks.
As you know, I have introduced a few bills to address both security and preparedness/response needs.
A terrorism preparedness bill that will: Establish the mechanism to create a coherent national strategy for terrorism preparedness and response. It will create a single federal coordinating and planning office for consequence management. And it will integrate both state and local responders in the planning and development of national terrorism preparedness policies.
I have also just introduced a water infrastructure grant bill to provide resources in order for these facilities to take care of immediate security needs
The grants in this bill can be used for a variety of needs including: training programs for rural utilities, gates, security cameras, surveillance equipment and other needs as identified by the utility.
While the nation's utilities believe the water supplies are safe and measures are in place to protect from attack, we must be sure that every possible step is being taken to close any existing security gaps. This bill will help to do that.
I have also joined Senator Inhofe in introducing a Nuclear security bill. And I have been working with Senator Jeffords on a bill to deal with communication needs in time of an emergency.
This is an issue that has consistently come up in our hearings and in private meetings B including a meeting I held last week in New Hampshire with our Governor and Federal, State and local emergency responders.
I know that Senator Warner also has a strong interest in this issue.
These are just a few positive steps to address security and preparedness needs of this nation.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses in order to explore other avenues to provide for our Homeland Security.
We are also here to discuss economic recovery options for the devastated area in and around Ground Zero in New York City. I know Senator Clinton has been working hard on legislation to get those small businesses in that area back on their feet as soon as possible. I visited Ground Zero shortly after the attack and can’t even begin to describe the devastation I saw.
One way of defeating what these terrorist stand for is to prove the resiliency of this nation. The Senator from New York and people of New York have my commitment to help in that effort. As I told Mayor Giuliani at Ground Zero – “on September 11, we all became New Yorkers.”
And I will be working closely with the members of this committee to address the economic needs of those who suffered from the terrorist attack of 9/11.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this hearing.