It is another relatively light week for scheduled Congressional hearings that will be of probable interest to the chemical security community with two hearings of peripheral interest. The topics this week will be pipeline safety and intelligence sharing.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee will be holding a hearing on Pipeline Security on Tuesday at 3:00 pm EDT. While they will be looking at recent accidents in San Burno, CA and other areas, there is always the chance that some Senator will ask about the possibility of a terrorist attack causing similar or more serious damage since there is effectively no Federal pipeline security program.
The Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a hearing on Wednesday at 3:30 pm EDT looking at how well the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis shares information. Typically these hearings focus on communication with law enforcement agencies, but sharing information with potential targets in the private sector is also liable to come up, if only briefly.
Still no word on possible hearings on the Lautenberg water system security bill or on a potential House appropriations bill for DHS. There is more and more talk about a post election session of Congress where Democrats think they will be able to get more support for controversial legislation where members are not being held directly accountable to voters. This certainly may help in the House, but if Republicans make their expected gains in the House and Senate, it is hard to understand where any Republicans will switch sides in a lame duck session in the Senate.
The one exception to this outlook may be HR 2868. The Senate version might pick-up Senate Democratic support because of the three year extension of the CFATS authorization. Democrats may hope that this would allow them to revisit the inherently safer technology issue when re-authorization comes up again. I would still expect to see a floor fight to add IST, labor involvement, and whistleblower protections to the Collins version of HR 2868. If a modified IST assessment and report provision made it into the bill then it could possibly pass when the bill made it back to the House.