Thursday, May 15, 2008

HR2419 Update 05-14-08

According to the conference report found on the House Rules Committee web site, the version of HR2419 reported favorably out of conference includes three chemical security related provisions instead of the two that I reported on in an earlier blog (see: "Farm Bill Contains Chemical Security Provisions"). The two previously reported provisions are still there and there is a new grant provision for security of anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks.

Previously Reported Provisions

The requirement to report on the effect of the CFATS propane provisions on agriculture are all that remain of earlier provisions to exempt agricultural facilities from all propane security provisions of CFATS. This section has been renumbered "Sec. 14206".

There is one provision of this section that should be practically a dead issue at this point in time. The provision requires DHS to conduct an educational outreach to agricultural facilities that might be required to complete a Top Screen. Since facilities that have had propane on site since before December 2007 should have already completed the Top Screen this provision should be essentially moot.

Section 15343 (again renumbered from the previously reported version) provides tax credits for actions taken to provide security for dangerous agricultural chemicals. The provisions remain unchanged from those reported in my original blog.

Anhydrous Ammonia Provision

I probably missed the ‘new’ provision in my original review of HR2419. Section 14203 of this final version of the bill provides a rather small grant (up to $60 per valve) for agricultural facilities to place a lock on valves of anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks. This is not to protect against terrorist attacks, but to prevent the theft of anhydrous ammonia for the manufacture of methamphetamines. Even so, this still serves to provide an additional barrier to the theft of a potential terrorist chemical weapon.

Future of HR2419

The two houses of congress will be voting on the reported version of HR2419 in the near future. Various news reports indicate that President Bush has vowed to veto this bill for reasons having nothing to do with the security provisions. It is not yet clear whether there will be enough votes in favor of this bill to override the threatened veto.

LATE ADDITION: The House passed the conference version of HR2419 by 318-106, a veto-proof margin. According to the article in the Baltimore Sun, the Senate is also expected to pass the bill by a veto-proof margin.

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