Thursday, December 20, 2007

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008

The House of Representatives just sent to the Senate the revised Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008 (HR 2764). While it is not clear that this bill will be approved, or if the funding for DHS and other departments will be included in an omnibus bill, it is informative to see what changes have been made to the previous Senate (S 1644) and House (HR 2638) bills. Rather than trying to analyze the whole bill, I’ll concentrate on provisions affecting the chemical industry.

This bill appropriates $50 Million for implementation of chemical facility security regulations. This is a $10 Million increase over what was previously authorized in the Senate Bill. This increase had previously been identified by the Administration as too large an increase; potentially calling for a presidential veto.

In Section 534 this bill includes the Senate provisions on pre-emption of state or local chemical facility security standards. The House version was similar except that it also included changes in information classification requirements. As I explained in an earlier blog (Revisions to CFATS Authorizing Legislation) the original version would require DHS to modify 6 CFR part 27 within 30 days of this legislation becoming law. As I read the language in the original bill, it should not require major modifications to the wording or intent of the current rules. Federal pre-emption could still prohibit, for example, disclosure of CVI.

Finally, in Section 563 of this bill there would be some new provisions for the secure handling of ammonium nitrate. It would be interesting to see if DHS included these provisions in the 6 CFR part 27 rules or in ATF regulations.

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