Monday, May 4, 2009

NACD Lobbying Effort

Last week 50 members of the National Association of Chemical Distributors ‘flew-in’ to Washington to have a chance to personally lobby members of Congress according to an article on Issues brought up in the effort included CFATS reauthorization and reaffirming the railroad common carrier obligation to carry hazmat chemicals. According to the article, the NACD approach to CFATS authorization was to urge Congress to remove the current October expiration of the CFATS authority without making any other changes to the system. The idea would be to allow full implementation of CFATS before making any substantive changes to the process. This personal lobbying effort has been an effective technique for NACD and other chemical industry groups to bring a particular viewpoint to the attention of members of Congress on a number of issues. It may be most effective when the people making the presentation in today’s economic and political environment can point to the preservation of jobs as part of the outcome of their desired point of view. Whether this will be a more effective lobbying method than the public pressure technique being employed by groups like Green Peace will depend on the size of the letter writing, petition signing campaign organized by those groups and how well those campaigns are targeted. Strong supporters of the chemical industry are unlikely to be swayed by the Green Peace campaign, just as strong environmentalists or workers rights supporters are unlikely to be swayed by personal lobbying efforts by industry. We will have some relative measure of the success of these two campaigns in the coming weeks as CFATS reauthorization is debated in Congress. There was one other interesting item of note in this article. Sue Armstrong, the Director of the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, had to opportunity for an outreach meeting with NACD members. This is a standard tool that DHS uses to help industry understand their responsibilities under CFATS. She gave them a standard briefing on the CSAT program as well as an update on the SSP roll-out. Now that the OMB has approved the Risk-Based Performance Standards Guidance document, there was more information she could include in her update than was available when she briefed the ACC ChemSecure conference a couple of months ago.

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