Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Hydrogen and CFATS

Yesterday, two additional bills were introduced in the House dealing with attempts to encourage the expansion of the use of hydrogen and anhydrous ammonia as ‘green’ fuels. Similar types of bills were introduced in the Senate back in the Spring. At that time, I wrote a piece about how the CFATS program would address the security of the new hydrogen fuel facilities. Today, with the CFATS program dead since July, and apparently un-resurrect able, there are no federal programs that would help ensure that these new fuel facilities met some minimum standards for protecting the facilities against a terrorist attack.

From today’s entry on for HR 6872, it would seem that Rep Porter (D,CA) might understand the problem because the description of the bill (the actual bill language is not yet available) notes that DHS would be involved in a report on the “feasibility and safety of using hydrogen-derived fuels”. Presumably, DHS would be providing expertise on the security side of safety as DHS is not really a safety agency.

Is this what we are going to be forced to endure as a country, ad hoc security measures for each different type of hazardous chemical used in commerce? If so, who will provide the Hydrogen security inspectors? Who will provide the mechanism for vetting hydrogen fuel system employees against the terrorist screening database? Who will write the hydrogen security regulations that interpret the will of Congress on protecting these facilities? Certainly not Congress, it seems.

It appears increasingly likely that Congress will not complete action on HR 4470, a relatively short-term extension of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. It looks like we are going to have to start looking at what a post-CFATS chemical security world is going to look like. Perhaps it is time for the GAO to produce a report that looks at how well the ‘overlapping’ security programs that Sen Paul used to justify his opposition to passing HR 4470 are actually going about protecting the citizens of this country from terrorist attacks on the Homeland. How they are ensuring that chemical facilities have security measures in place. How they are helping chemical facilities vet their employees against the TSDB. How they are providing Congress and the people information about the security of chemical facilities. And who is ensuring that facilities are not evading their security responsibilities because some (many) DHS chemicals of interest are not covered by those programs.

1 comment:

David Sahm said...

Thank you for articulating this concern. Hopefully, Local Emergency Planning Committees will take note and sound alarm to their reps in Congress. My LEPC was fully engaged with many of the manufacturing and chemical storage facilities, as well, as pipelines running through our community.

Again, thank you for the insight going on in Congress.

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