Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rand Beer’s Confirmation Hearing

I missed a chance to watch the Rand Beers’ confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but I did get a chance today to go back and review the video. You’ll remember that I noted that this hearing might be of interest to the chemical security community because the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) is directly responsible for (among a number of other things) the people that run the CFATS program. Well the CFATS program did actually get mentioned a couple of times during the hearing. Both Senators Lieberman and Collins mentioned looking forward to working with Mr. Beers in strengthening and reauthorizing the CFATS program. Sen. Collins (R, ME) was especially effusive in that regards, pointing out that the Committee was responsible for the original authorization language while she was the Chair. Sen. Collins asked Mr. Beers about a report which he co-authored in 2006 about homeland security for the Century Foundation. Specifically she asked about one of the recommendations from the chapter on chemical facility security. That recommendation was that Congress ought to provide “liability protection and terrorism insurance premium reductions for facilities certified as being compliant” (page 93). She asked him if he still thought that that would be appropriate and he answered in the affirmative. There was another interesting exchange between Mr. Beers and Ms Collins. He noted in one of his answers that the Obama Administration had asked Congress for a one year extension of CFATS authorization (as I had noted in an earlier blog). Sen. Collins commented that she looked forward to working with Mr. Beers to see to it that that extension was enacted into law. In a lighter moment of the hearing Sen. Lieberman asked Mr. Beers to look into a problem that he had noted with the chemical facility security program. He thought that the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards name ought to be changed because the acronym for the program was invariably pronounced “See-Fats”. The Senator thought, tongue firmly in cheek, that the acronym lacked appropriate decorum for such an important program. All in all it was a very friendly hearing and there was little doubt that the Committee will vote to recommend that the whole Senate vote to confirm the nomination of Mr. Beers.

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