Monday, September 10, 2012

Updated CFATS Hearing Information

Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee Environment and the Economy posted additional information to the hearing web site. The new information includes the list of witnesses for the second panel of the hearing. The Committee also took the unusual action of publishing the prepared witness testimony the day before the hearing is to be held.

Second Witness Panel

The second witness panel contains two industry witnesses, a labor witness, and a well-known advocate for the Blue-Green Alliance of environmental and labor groups. They are (links are to their testimony):

• Ms. Anna Fendley; United Steelworkers; Health, Safety & Environment Department

• Mr. Matthew J. Leary; Corporate EHS&S Manager; Pilot Chemical Company

• Mr. Paul Orum; Consultant

• Mr. Timothy J. Scott; Chief Security Officer; The Dow Chemical Company

There is nothing new in any of the prepared testimony from these four witnesses. But then again, no one really expected otherwise. The public complains about the intransigence of Congress, but we almost always see the same thing from the public interest groups appearing before Congress.

GAO Report

Cathleen Berrick, of the Government Accountability Office, is presenting a new GAO report with the same title, as I noted in Saturday’s blog, as the report submitted to the House Appropriations Committee back in July. The new report is not an exact copy of the earlier report, but it is substantially the same with no new information that I can find. You can read my post on that earlier hearing for a review of the ineffectiveness of this report.

Beers Testimony

Much of the testimony that Under Secretary Beers will be giving tomorrow is a rehash of testimony that he has given before a number of different Committees. That is to be expected as the bulk of the written testimony is background information about the CFATS program. There is, however, some worthwhile new information in the testimony.

Beers notes that “ISCD has completed its review of all Tier 1 SSPs and has begun reviewing Tier 2 SSPs” (pg 5). They have authorized or conditionally authorized 73 facility SSPs, and most important they now have ONE approved SSP.

Beers also has an important announcement about Alternative Security Programs (ASPs). ISCD has been working with the American Chemistry Council on developing a template that ACC member facilities in the CFATS program can use to document the Site Security Plan that they had developed under the security program under Responsible Care®. This will allow ISCD to evaluate that SSP for CFATS compliance.

The testimony addresses the internal communications and employee morale at ISCD. Beers tries to put a positive face on developments in that area, but the email that I reported on today appears to contradict this positive spin. It will be interesting to see if anyone has detailed questions about this area of his testimony.

In fact, the questions asked of Beers (and presumably ISCD Director Wulf) will be the important part of this hearing. If the Committee hands Beers the standard slow pitch softball questions that have been the standard for Congressional Oversight of the CFATS program, then we have wasted another year of the implementation of the program. And, we will be getting closer to the termination of the program.

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