Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HR 3258 Introduction

Yesterday, Chairman Waxman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced HR 3258, Drinking Water System Security Act of 2009. It was posted to the GPO web site this morning, so I have yet to conduct a thorough review of the provisions. Doing a very quick speed read it is apparent that this bill started out as Title II of HR 2868 but quickly took on a life of its own. The bill looks like it is going to establish CFATS lite under the EPA to regulate the security of water treatment facilities. A brief look at the provisions makes me think that this will actually increase the physical security requirements for water treatment facilities (an easy task since there were no previous requirements), but waters down (unintended pum, I promise) the protections for chlorine and anhydrous ammonia that would have been required under HR 2868. Since this stand alone bill does not seem to mention HR 2868 or the CFATS exemption for water treatment plants, I would assume that the Energy and Commerce Committee will find it necessary to add the water treatment facility exemption back into HR 2868. One reader has already pointed out to me that this bill is simply an exercise in protecting congressional turf. That is the only reason that any reasonably sane person could have for setting up a duplicate organization in a separate executive agency to do the same thing. Perhaps they should lump this bill into one of the stimulus packages since it will certainly be an exercise in increasing the federal workforce. In any case, I’ll take a more detailed look at the bill and get back with a more detailed analysis of its provisions. Oh, yes. The first hearing for this bill was supposed to have been the Energy and Environment Subcommittee Hearing on Thursday morning. William Almond (SOCMA) is reporting on TWITTER that that hearing has been postponed (no date announced yet I understand) because of problems the Energy and Commerce Committee is having completing their mark-up of the healthcare reform bill.

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