Thursday, February 4, 2010

New CFATS Legislation

A long time reader just emailed me a press release from a staff member representing Sen. Collins (R, ME) announcing the bipartisan introduction of a Senate bill that would extend the current CFATS authorization until October 4th, 2015. The copy of the bill that was included in the email includes two other provisions (a chemical security training program and a chemical security exercise program), but certainly the most significant is the CFATS authorization extension. The press release says that there are three co-sponsors for the bill; two Democrats {Senators Pryor (D,AR) and Landrieu (D,LA)} and a Republican {Senator Voinovich (R,OH)}. I have checked the web sites for all four Senators and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, but the press release has yet to make it to any of their sites. I won’t be able to confirm the introduction of the bill until the Congressional Record is published in the morning, so I don’t yet have a bill number. According to the press release: “The ‘Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act’ would reauthorize the law that is now set to expire in October, providing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with sufficient time to fully implement the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program.” Sen. Collins had previously expressed her dissatisfaction with the IST mandate provisions in the HR 2868 and had announced her intention to introduce alternative legislation. The support of Pryor and Landrieu provides some indication of the problems that the supporters of HR 2868 might have in getting the current bill through the Senate. Support (or opposition) to the house bill does not fall strictly along party lines so it is hard to predict how the bill will fare in the Senate. A lot depends on the final wording of some of the more controversial sections in the bill. Still to be heard from is Senator Lautenberg (D, NJ) who also vowed to introduce his own version of a chemical security bill last fall. Lautenberg’s version of such a bill would be expected to include stricter rules on mandating IST implantation and expanded states rights to legislate on chemical security issues. This expansion of the controversy surrounding legislation to make CFATS authorization permanent provides support to the Administration’s inclusion of a one year extension of CFATS authorization in the DHS budget. The more involved this political battle gets, the less likely Congress is to resolve the issues before the current October 4th, 2010 deadline passes.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to Senator Collins for voicing her opposition to IST as forcefully as she did. For all the talk months ago on your blog about which trade association was more active/effective in advancing the industry's position in the House debate, it was very telling that the senator referenced SOCMA's testimony (and no others' among the chem groups) as she introduced her bill on the Senate floor.

Specifically, Senator Collins stated:

"Forcing chemical facilities to implement IST could wreak economic havoc on some facilities and affect the availability
of products that all Americans
take for granted. For instance, according to October 2009 testimony by the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and
Affiliates before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, mandatory IST would negatively restrict the production
of pharmaceuticals and microelectronics,
unnecessarily crippling
those industries."

Regardless of which association is viewed as the "best," all of industry needs to support this bill and not leave it to the associations in Washington only to advance the opposition to HR 2868.

PJCoyle said...

For my response to the comments posted by Anonymous see:

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