Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) extended an invitation to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to come to southeast Texas to personally evaluate the security needs of the Port of Beaumont and the surrounding petrochemical industry.

I am deeply troubled by the stealth-like move by the Department of Homeland Security to undercut the security at our nations largest military port without any prior notification or input from local officials. The Port of Beaumont and the surrounding petrochemical industry, which is home to the largest refineries in our country, is vital to the security and economic stability of our entire nation. I have extended and invitation for Secretary Chertoff to come to Jefferson County with me and see for himself the need for the highest level of security.

In a letter dated, February 12, 2008, Congressman Poe stressed that the recent decision to downgrade the security level of the Port of Beaumont from Tier I to Tier II must be immediately reconsidered. This change in security status could drastically reduce the eligibility for federal grant funding directly affecting the security needs along the Sabine Neches Waterway (SNWW).

I am disappointed your department has failed to take into account the importance this waterway has on both the military and economic needs of the nation when coming up with your criteria, said Poe. Should this downgrade be allowed to happen and should these grants be reduced, it takes away vital resources to protect the maritime industries in this region. It is the top commercial military port in the nation, sending valuable resources to our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congressman Poe serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and a Member of the Congressional Port Security Caucus.