CFATS expected to change with new Congress
WASHINGTON—When the new Congress convenes in January there will likely be changes made to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards legislation.
According to an article on ICIS.com, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Nov. 8 that he opposes some of the security measures included in the current Democrat-sponsored bill that was approved by the House last year.
That bill, HR-2868, would have given the department authority to impose inherently safer technologies (IST) on high-risk chemical facilities in order to reduce their attractiveness as potential terrorist targets, according to the article.
King said that Republican legislation to be put forward next year to update and codify CFATS “will avoid giving DHS unfettered authority to mandate how facilities should manufacture their products”, a reference to the IST provision in last year’s bill.
Such terminology has been opposed by those in the chemical industry. “SOCMA appreciates the bill’s attention to the impact of its controversial provision, better known as inherently safer technology, on small chemical facilities. However, IST is obviously not a common-sense mandate,” said Lawrence Sloan, president and CEO of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers, in a July statement.
SOCMA claims that this legislation is flawed because it mandates implementation of a process safety concept—not a security measure—a clear definition of which cannot be agreed upon by experts and which cannot be measured, according to the statement.
During his tenure as the chairman, King said that “the committee will take up a permanent authorization of CFATS to give it a sense of real continuity.”
However, the current renewal of the existing CFATS legislation is still under question. HR-2868 was approved by the House last year, but has not yet been considered by the full Senate.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee recently passed a three-year extension of the current regulations, but full Senate consideration or approval of that measure is not likely in the few weeks remaining to the 111 Congress.
Instead, the existing anti-terrorism standards for chemical plants were expected to be extended into 2011 as part of a budget measure for DHS that Congress must pass before Dec. 3.