Sunday, March 21, 2010

Congressional Hearings, Week of 3-22-10

While there are no hearings currently scheduled specifically on chemical security issues, there are a number of hearing that will affect the chemical security community tangentially. Two are mark-up hearings for cybersecurity legislation, three hearings on the nomination of the head of the TSA and one hearing on counterterrorism information sharing. There will also be an oversight hearing on FERC that may touch on SCADA security issues. Cybersecurity Legislation The Senate Commerce Committee will conduct a full committee markup of S 773, the Cyber Security Act of 2009, on March 24th at 10:00 am EST. When first introduced last year it was roundly criticized by many people for its apparently giving the President the authority to shut down the Internet (without ever saying how you could do that, of course). Sen. Rockefeller (D, WV) and Sen. Snowe (R, ME) recently announced a significantly revised version of the bill. This new version is sure to be the basis for the markup. Since a number of other issues are also going to addressed at this hearing, I just expect the new version to be voted upon as a ‘substitute in the form of an amendment’. More on this bill after the markup. The House Science and Technology Committee will be conducting a full committee markup hearing HR XXXX on March 25th at 10:00 am EST. The last time HR XXXX came up was back in November when the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation met to markup HR XXXX, the Cybersecurity Coordination and Awareness Act. Since that bill has yet to be actually introduced, I assume that this is the same bill being considered this week. As I noted in an earlier blog this bill only had one section addressing industrial control system issues. We’ll see what, if anything gets added in this markup. TSA Nomination While the TSA is publically identified with airport security, the chemical security community also realizes that it deals with both air and ground freight security issues directly impacting our community. So we should be watching the hearings on the latest appointee with some interest. Both the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee (March 23rd, 11:00 am EST) and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Operations Committee (March 24th, 10:00 am EST) will be holding nomination hearings this week. The Commerce Committee is currently scheduled to vote on the nomination at the same hearing that S 773 will be marked up. Counterterrorism Information The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on March 24th at 10:00 am that will look at “Sharing and Analyzing Information to Prevent Terrorism”. No witness list is yet available so it is hard to tell what will be addressed at this hearing. Sharing of counterterrorism information should be important to the chemical security community so this may be of some interest. SCADA Security This last one may be a stretch; the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be conducting an oversight hearing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. One of the issues that is likely to come-up (no details yet available) is security for the ‘Smart Grid’ system. Since this system is at heart an industrial control system of mega-proportions, Congressional responses to security issues identified here might trickle down to the types of control systems seen in high-risk chemical facilities.

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