Wednesday, January 9, 2019

HR 251 Passed in House – CFATS Extension

Yesterday the House passed HR 251, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program Extension Act, by a strongly bipartisan vote of 414 to 3. The debate on the bill was even more one-sided as no one spoke in opposition. The only negative comments dealt with non-security related safety issues at chemical facilities.

It is looking more and more like emergency response and community communications are going to be major issues for the Democrats in the House in crafting a long-term extension of the CFATS program. Both of these issues are certainly related to security programs at these facilities, but the clamor from Democrats makes it clear that they are concerned about these issues at chemical plants that are not currently covered by the CFATS program.

While current EPA and OSHA regulations do address these issues, what is clear is that the proactive enforcement seen with the CFATS program ensures that processes are put in place to address regulatory issues and those processes
 are subsequently maintained. The active CFATS inspection process is much better at ‘enforcing’ regulatory compliance than either the EPA’s or OSHA’s reactive inspection process.

To be fair, both of these agencies cover a much larger (at least an order of magnitude larger) regulated community and neither agency has the budget or personnel available to implement an inspection scheme as effective as the CFATS process.

Perhaps it is time to look at modifying the EPA’s Risk Management Program to establish a special high-risk category of facilities that would be required to comply with a risk-based regulatory process like that seen in the CFATS program where a risk-analysis and risk-prevention planning process were required with an EPA approval of the risk prevention plan with subsequent periodic compliance inspections for plan compliance.

This risk prevention plan would certainly be expected to address the emergency response and community communication concerns that have been expressed by Democrats in their discussions about the CFATS program. Those processes would probably be better covered under the EPA’s mantle of protecting the environment and local communities from accidental chemical releases than under the DHS anti-terrorism standards.

1 comment:

CigarRenaissance.Com said...

Why not move the entire program under EPA?

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