As it turns out, CFATS legislation may not be "dead" after all. Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee unanimously voted to approve an amendment to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (H.R. 2868).
The amendment would extend the existing Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards by three years to October 4, 2013 and give chemical facilities and the Department of Homeland Security time to more fully implement the regulation, rather than significantly altering the existing rules, according to a statement released by the the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.
Here's a few more highlights of this legislation:
* direct DHS to develop voluntary exercise and training programs to improve collaboration with the private sector and other stakeholders;
* establish a voluntary technical assistance program allowing DHS to provide non-binding recommendations or assistance to covered facilities at the request of the owners/operators of those facilities;
* create a chemical facility security best practices clearinghouse at DHS; and
* establish a chemical facility security advisory board to advise DHS on CFATS implementation and the voluntary technical assistance program.
All the legislation needs now is to pass a full vote in the Senate. But will it happen? Congress is scheduled to go on recess August 9 - September 12, so the amendment has seven days to pass. Obviously, it could also pass when Congressional folks return from their month-long vacation (P.S. I plan to talk to my boss about adopting a similar work schedule), but some have voiced concern that election season could interfere with the passage of this legislation.
However, at least SOCMA and other chemical security folks have a piece of legislation to support. They were none too happy with legislation introduced by Sen. Lautenberg on July 15 that "would mandate chemical facilities switch to so-called safer chemicals or processes." This legislation, known as the Secure Chemical Facilities Act, adopts the House version of the CFATS reauthorization bill, which includes controversial language regarding the use of "inherently safer technology." However, the legislation that passed yesterday, does not include the IST language and continues what folks are calling "common-sense performance standards."