Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama Signs HR 2892

Yesterday President Obama signed HR 2892, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010. Arguably the most important item in the bill for the chemical security community was the extension of the congressional authority for the CFATS program until October 4, 2010 (§550). The bill provides $103.4 million for the CFATS program, increasing the staffing for the program to 246 full time employees. Another ‘General Provision’ of the bill addresses the abuse of the ‘Sensitive Security Information’ protections of 46 USC 70103(d), 49 USC 114(r), or 49 USC 40119(b). Sensitive Security Information Section 561, the American Communities’ Right to Public Information Act, prohibits anyone from using the ‘sensitive security information’ designation as a means to:
“Conceal a violation of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; “Prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; “Restrain competition; or “Prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of transportation security, including basic scientific research information not clearly related to transportation security.”
This provision should be known as the ‘Bayer CropScience Slap-in-the-Face’ Act. It was written by Sen. Rockefeller (D, WV) in direct response to the efforts made by Bayer CropScience to prevent the Chemical Safety Board from disclosing safety mistakes made by Bayer during last year’s fatal incident at the Institute, WV facility.

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