The American Chemistry Council (ACC) finally got around to responding to a June 17th commentary posted on Politico.com. The original commentary blamed the lobbying efforts of the chemical industry for the failure of Congress to act on chemical facility security legislation. The ACC defense by Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the ACC, is the standard listing of the efforts by the ACC to police their own house.
While the ACC members have apparently made significant expenditures on improving their security, they admit that the current CFATS implantation will require industry to spend about a 1/3 again as much money on further security improvements.
This response admits that the ACC would like to see the current CFATS extended beyond the current October 2009 expiration without significant change. This makes them generally opposed to the passage of HR 5577. Their justification is that, before changes are made to the CFATS program, the current regulations need to be fully implemented and then evaluated. This is certainly a defensible position.
Activist organizations on the other side of the issue will certainly not be impressed by this argument, which they have heard before. The House Homeland Security Committee was not impressed by the same argument made in hearings conducted during the development of HR 5577. That committee noted some serious (to them) shortcomings in the current regulations; short comings that were imposed by the authorizing legislation. This was the same legislation that Gerard claims "ACC led a successful charge in Congress to enact".
As I noted in an earlier blog (see: "CFATA Delays") I think that the chemical industry is being unfairly blamed for the congressional inaction on HR 5577. Unfortunately, this response by the ACC does nothing to make that argument and contributes no new information to the current debate on how to proceed with the CFATS authorization dilemma. I really expected a more timely and effective response.