Monday, May 18, 2009

Reported Compromise on Water Facility Security

I found an interesting article on about congressional progress on CFATS re-authorization legislation. The article by Sara Goodman explains that the two House committees working on the re-authorization issue have reached a compromise on the issue of regulating chemical security at water and wastewater treatment facilities. Sara reports that under the recently reached compromise the EPA would retain jurisdiction for security at water and wastewater treatment facilities, including chemical security. The article goes on to report that the markup of the two chemical security bills (one for CFATS re-authorization and one to continue the non-existent EPA interest in security at water treatment facilities) will begin in June, not before the previously reported Memorial Day Recess deadline. Given the normally extensive summer recesses and the wide variety of other high-priority legislation that has yet to be considered, this schedule reduces the likelihood that CFATS reauthorization can get approved before the October expiration of the current authorization. Ms Goodman notes that: “Given the slow progress with negotiations in Congress, the aide [unnamed Homeland Security Committee staffer] said lawmakers will probably introduce a simple bill on suspension that will extend the sunset until Congress can put in place permanent regulations.” This is a potential solution that I had previously discussed. She also notes that “the Obama administration proposed in its fiscal 2010 budget request to extend the regulations through October 2010”. It is true that funding for CFATS operations has been included in the budget request, but I haven’t seen any thing specifically extending the CFATS authorization. As I noted in an article I wrote for the Journal of Hazmat Transportation (19:6, pg 25) there are some people that believe that extending the budget authorization for the program will effectively extend the authority for the program. The political saga continues to provide fodder for the blog writer.

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