Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CFATA Hearing Update

Yesterday the Energy and Commerce Committee web site had some updated information on the HR 2868/HR3258 hearing that the Energy and Environment Subcommittee will be conducting on Thursday. The hearing web page now provides a list of the witnesses that will appear before the subcommittee. The currently scheduled witnesses are:
Peter Silva, US EPA Office of Water Rand Beers, DHS NPPD Brian Ramaley, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies Marty Durbin, American Chemistry Council Darius Sivin, CWA-UAW Legislative Alliance Stephen Poorman, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates
I am a little surprised that there are no representatives of any of the environmental activist organizations that have been so active in supporting HR 2868 and HR 3258 over the last six months or so. The CWA-UAW has actively joined these organizations in supporting this legislation, but since they represent so many chemical facility workers, they deserve their own seat at the table. Additionally, they have been actively involved in IST issues at refineries, opposing the continued use of Hydrogen Fluoride as a catalyst. If there is much discussion of this particular issue I would expect the whole committee would probably hear from a representative of the American Petroleum Institute at a future hearing. The industry representatives are a mixed bag in regards to their support of these two bills. The ACC has generally been more supportive of CFATA than has SOCMA. SOCMA would prefer to see a bill that would make the current CFATS program permanent. ACC has been more willing to work with Congress on expanding the program. The AMWA will probably have objections to the IST provisions in HR 3258, but will probably favor the EPA regulation of their facilities instead of being lumped in with high-risk chemical facilities under CFATS. The most interesting testimony will come from the two government witnesses. Rumors have been making the rounds that DHS will come out in support of some version of IST, something that have been less than enthusiastic about in the past. Last year EPA supported the idea of increased chemical security regulation of water treatment facilities, but they have not made a public stand on the provisions of HR 3258. I do expect that they will come out in favor of including waste water treatment facilities in HR 3258 as opposed to their current inclusion in HR 2868. One last item; currently the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee are supposed to report on HR 2868 by September 30th. Neither will make that deadline. The Speaker will almost certainly extend that deadline on Wednesday, probably until October 31st. Even that date might slip as the Energy and Commerce Committee continues to work on health care issues.

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