Homeland Security Department provides $844 million in critical infrastructure protection grants

The Homeland Security Department said Friday it had distributed $844 million in fiscal 2008 grants for protection of ports, transit systems and other components of the nation's critical infrastructure.

Funding is intended to support terrorism and disaster prevention, protection, response and recovery capabilities.

"With this year's funding, the department will have provided roughly $3 billion in grants for securing the nation's critical infrastructure and transportation systems," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a press release. "As capabilities mature, we're encouraging state and local governments and the private sector to prioritize [improvised explosive device] prevention and protection, communications capabilities, information sharing and regionally based security cooperation."

Grant funding for infrastructure protection activities increased by 29 percent in this fiscal year.

The agency distributed $388.6 million through its port security grant program, which "supports sustainable, risk-based efforts to enhance access control and credentialing, protect against an improvised explosive device and other nonconventional attacks, and conduct exercises for disaster-response scenarios," according to the release. Nearly $221 million went to the seven highest-risk port areas, followed by $138 million for the 40 second-tier areas and more than $17 million for the 16 third-tier ports. The agency said it had distributed nearly $10 million to other ports, along with $2.4 million to five ferry systems. Ports have received nearly $1.5 billion in security grants since 2003.

Homeland Security distributed another $380.1 million for its transit security grant program, which is aimed at countering threats "that could cause major disruption to commerce and significant loss of life." More than $333 million went to the eight highest-risk metropolitan areas in the urban areas security initiative. The 23 second-tier areas received just under $17 million and can compete for another $8.5 million. Funding also includes nearly $5 million for freight rail security and $25 million for intercity passenger rail security. Homeland Security has distributed $921 million for transit security since 2005.

Slightly more than $11.2 million went to "operators of fixed-route intercity and charter bus companies serving one or more defined [urban areas security initiative] jurisdictions." The emphasis in funding was on "IED prevention and detection; protection of high-risk/high consequence assets; antiterrorism training and preparedness exercises; visible, unpredictable deterrence activities; and the development of vulnerability and security plans." The agency is giving just more than $6 million to first-tier UASI jurisdictions, with $5 million going to second-tier areas. The agency has allocated more than $71 million since 2003 through its intercity bus security grant program.

Homeland Security is distributing another $48.5 million under its buffer zone protection program, which supports state and local security and risk-management efforts to safeguard chemical plants, nuclear power facilities and other "high-risk/high consequence" sites. More than $236 million has been allocated since 2005.

Finally, the trucking security grant program is providing $15.5 million to one recipient for "participant identification and recruitment, planning, training, communications and information analysis and distribution." Homeland Security has distributed nearly $78 million through the program since 2003.

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