Sunday, December 5, 2010

Congressional Hearings Week of 12-06-10

With a lame duck session of Congress one does not expect a large number of hearings to be held, and, with the exception of a few committees in each house this lame duck session is no surprise. Next week there is only one hearing scheduled that might possibly be of interest to the chemical security community. That will be a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee entitled: “Catastrophic Preparedness: How Ready Is FEMA for the Next Big Disaster?” It will be held on December 7th, 2010 at 2:30 pm EST.

According to the Committee web site there is only one panel set to testify. It includes a trio of government witnesses:

● The Honorable W. Craig Fugate; Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
● The Honorable Richard L. Skinner; Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
● William O. Jenkins, Jr.; Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office
With the focus of this hearing being the ‘Next Big Disaster’, I would like to think that someone would ask about preparedness to respond to a successful terrorist attack on a Tier 1, high-risk chemical facility. I am not, however, going to hold my breath. It seems to me that FEMA has concentrated its preparedness efforts on natural catastrophes like fires, floods, hurricanes and tornados. Since these arguably are much more common than terrorist attacks, successful or otherwise, I think that someone at FEMA needs to take a hard look at the possible consequences of an attack on one of these facilities.

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