Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, is urging federal officials to drop a plan that would eliminate homeland security funding for the Buffalo-Niagara region, leaving the region - including the state's largest power producing plant - potentially vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Ceretto blasted Congresswoman Nita Lowey, D-Westchester County, and Congressman Steve Israel, D-Suffolk County, for sponsoring legislation (H.R. 1555) that would change the distribution of homeland security funding, shifting monies to the New York City area that had previously been allocated to Western New York. Currently, the region receives about $5.5 million a year in federal homeland security funds.
"Niagara County is home to the largest power producing plant in New York. If terrorists were to knock out this facility, our state would be impacted with a massive blackout," Ceretto said. "It is apparent that these lawmakers are more interested in funneling money to their districts than protecting lives and the economic wellbeing of the entire state."
Ceretto noted that, during the last month, the three border crossings in his district saw a total of 304,763 vehicles enter the U.S. from Canada, while the Peace Bridge, in neighboring Erie County, saw 230,919 vehicles enter the country.
"Niagara Falls is an important international crossing, with millions crossing the border in the region each year," Ceretto said. "In a post 9/11 world, the reality is we need more funding to secure our borders and protect New Yorkers from future terrorist attacks, (and) not less."
Ceretto added that the current funding disparity is especially alarming considering a recent government accountability office report that concluded there is a greater risk of terrorists entering the country through Canada than from Mexico.
"I am hopeful that once representatives Lowey and Israel learn how important keeping the border in our region secure is to preventing future terrorists attacks, they will abandon their disastrous and dangerous plan to strip our region of federal homeland security funding," Ceretto said.