Landrieu criticizes report
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is blasting a recent Senate subcommittee report that was strongly critical of the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers that are meant to coordinate counterterrorism efforts with local officials.
The report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations alleged the fusion centers have failed to uncover terrorism planning and that the centers have often produced “shoddy” work while operating with little fiscal accountability.
Landrieu, who chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, contended the evidence shows “significant progress in enhancing intelligence sharing between the federal government and state and local law enforcement.” Such cooperation was much worse prior to the creation of the centers, she stated.
The Louisiana State Police operates a fusion center in Baton Rouge called the Louisiana State Analytical and Fusion Exchange.
“In Louisiana, the LA-SAFE Fusion Center has turned raw data into actionable intelligence that led law enforcement to locate a known drug trafficker carrying $1 million and a homicide suspect traveling across the state, as well as the conviction of the kidnapper and murderer of 22-year-old Mickey Shunick, a senior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who vanished last May and whose remains were later found in rural Evangeline Parish,” Landrieu said in a prepared statement.
Vitter criticized oil lease sale
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., criticized the Obama administration this past week after the Interior Department touted a Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas lease in November that had previously been announced.
The Interior Department’s press release stated it was announcing the “final details” of the Nov. 28 lease sale of more than 20 million acres in the western Gulf.
Vitter complained the lease sale will be “only” the third since the drilling moratorium after the 2010 BP and Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“Energy production on federal property is a process that requires leasing, permitting, exploring, more permitting, and then hopefully production,” Vitter stated.
“The federal government can cripple any one of these stages, and this administration has made it their standard to stymie the process.”
Domestic production of oil and natural gas are up under Obama, while the importing of foreign oil is down.
However, Vitter is correct that leasing and production on federal lands are down.
The Interior Department had two Gulf lease sales in the past 12 months that combined to make available 60 million acres for oil-and-gas exploration.
A central Gulf lease sale is planned for March 20 that would make available another 38 million acres.
Landrieu announces funding
Landrieu announced more than $19 million in new Federal Emergency Management Agency funds allocated for the New Orleans area dating back to Hurricane Katrina.
The biggest chunk is a $15.4 million grant to St. Bernard Parish for repairs to its sanitary sewage collection system that was heavily damaged by Katrina in 2005.
Xavier University in New Orleans is getting $2.6 million for the construction of new faculty housing facilities.
Katrina heavily damaged 13 faculty residence or office facilities at Xavier and the university opted to replace them with fewer, but larger, faculty housing buildings.
Lastly, $1.3 million is going to the Port of New Orleans to the New Orleans Cold Storage project to build a 140,000-square-foot facility to serve as a refrigerated warehousing, transportation and logistics provider.
An existing warehouse at the Henry Clay Wharf will be demolished to make way for the expanded facility.
As for some milestones for Louisiana’s senators, Vitter completed his 64th town hall meeting of the 112th Congress with a town hall on Friday in Franklin Parish.
The event allowed Vitter to meet his pledge of holding a town hall in all 64 of Louisiana parishes every Congress.
Landrieu, the state’s senior senator, on Friday received the Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award from the United Seamen’s Service, in recognition of her contributions to the maritime industry.
Landrieu was the only politician of three award winners.
“Senator Landrieu has been the leading voice in Washington for the Gulf Coast recovery effort,” the USS announcement stated. “In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the failures of the federal levee system, she secured billions in recovery dollars and has worked extensively to jumpstart recovery projects.”
Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is email@example.com.