CQ’s unofficial lawyer in New York, Eric Costello, tells us that Senator Chuck Schumer became incensed earlier this week when reviewing Homeland Security funding. According to the New York Post on February 7th, Schumer railed about the amount of funding that went to the US Virgin Islands. He pointed out that the DHS expenditure for the USVI came to $29 million since 2001, infuriating the Empire State’s senior Senator:
Sen. Charles Schumer blasted Homeland Security officials yesterday for sending millions in federal funds to fortify the idyllic U.S. Virgin Islands against a terror attack.
The Post reported yesterday that the feds have doled out $29 million in the last four years to secure the island paradise – spending $42 for each territorial resident, or almost three times the $15 per New Yorker.
“It is just incredible that the Virgin Islands would get more money than New York,” said Schumer.
“I have not read once that the Virgin Islands has security threats. It just shows the mindset of throwing the money up in the air and seeing where it falls down.”
It seems a bit strange to explain math to one of the people responsible for the federal budget — well, maybe not — but if the DHS spent $15 per New Yorker, it comes to a hell of a lot more money than $29 million. If Schumer just refers to residents of the Big Apple, that would come to $120 million, more than four times what was spent on the Virgin Islands. More likely Schumer meant residents of his state, which would push that total to $285 million. Both figures come to far more than what DHS spent on the Virgin Islands.
And if Schumer doesn’t know of any security issues on the Caribbean island group, that only proves that he hasn’t a clue about the Virgin Islands. On the island of St. Croix sits a state-of-the-art oil refinery that produces a significant amount of the fuel used on the Atlantic seaboard, apparently including New York. It refines up to 495,000 barrels of oil a day from all over the world, but primarily from Venezuela, which has an ownership stake in Hovensa. Since the US refines 16 million barrels a day, this comes to 3% of the daily oil refinery capacity of our country … which makes it a key strategic asset for the United States.
Normally, we’d expect a Senator to understand this before shooting his mouth off. Instead, he reveals himself as nothing more than a home-state porker unhappy that national-security interests keep federal funding from stoking his re-election credentials.
UPDATE: The refinery is on the island of St. Croix, not St. Thomas, as a couple of e-mailers have noted. I’ve edited the post to make the correction.
I have to respond to the ridiculous notion that Eric and I have somehow revealed a secret to terrorists with this post. As Eric says in his comment, this information is readily available on the internet. It’s also well known to Virgin Island residents, anyone who has any knowledge of refinery issues in the US, and one might hope Congress as well. Chuck Schumer might have thought to do some research on the specific security risks involved in the Virgin Islands before publicly proclaiming his ignorance of both security issues and simple mathematics.