Monday, December 29, 2008

ACC Continues Political Push

As the year end quickly approaches and the new session of Congress gets ready for its first meeting on January 6th, the American Chemistry Council is continuing their preparation for the upcoming debate in Congress on chemical facility security legislation. Last Friday I commented on VP Marty Durbin’s contribution (see: “Chemical Facility Security Legislation”). Today we look at an article by Cal Dooley, the organization’s President and CEO. Chemical Facility Security The article does not just address the chemical facility security issue, but rather looks at a variety of challenges that face the chemical industry in general over the next year. One of those is the future of the chemical facility anti-terrorism standards (CFATS) that expires in October. As is usual with any chemical facility security discussion with the ACC, Dooley starts out with an affirmation of the industry’s concern about security and the $6 Billion spent so far. Actually, I am beginning to get a little concerned about that figure. It hasn’t changed over the last year. The ACC member companies have either stopped spending (not likely with CFATS implementation under way) or they have stopped counting. In either case it would be much more impressive if ACC were to update that figure periodically. The only other part of this article that addresses chemical facility security is Dooley’s pledge to work with Congress to make CFATS permanent, emphasizing the risk-based performance standards of the current program. No mention is made of the IST issue or of Federal pre-emption; both were areas of ACC concern last year. ACC vs Railroads Over the last couple of years there has been an increasing animosity between the railroads and the chemical industry. Last year the American Railroad Association joined in the call for mandatory IST to sharply reduce the amount of PIH chemicals shipped by rail. In this article Dooley calls for Congress to “pass reform legislation to promote competitive rail service, end rail monopolies and restore a healthy, reliable, competitively-priced freight-rail system.” Interestingly, this may put the ACC on the side of a variety of advocacy groups that are pushing for routing PIH chemicals around urban areas. One of the things that railroads have used to justify routing through urban areas is that they would have to shift such loads to other carriers to get around cities. This may make for some interesting debates in Congress. Interesting Political Year The coming year is shaping up to look like an interesting political year. The economy will, of course, be the main focus, but there are enough other issues facing chemical facilities and chemical transportation that companies and organizations are going to have to watch the 111th Congress a little more closely than they have in the past.

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