IHS Chemical Week

CHEM IDEAS

Passage of CFATS bill a huge step in improving the nation's chemical security

2:17 PM MDT | July 16, 2014 | By LAWRENCE SLOAN, SOCMA PRESIDENT AND CEO

Last week’s passage of H.R. 4007—The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014—by the US House of Representatives is a huge step forward in gaining long-term authorization of CFATS and improving our nation’s chemical security. 

Socma worked closely with Congressional staff to create and move this bill, and we are pleased to see the first piece of legislation calling for a multiyear extension of CFATS finally make it to the House floor for a vote this year. This is a big win for the specialty chemical industry and the broader chemical sector.

Socma has long advocated for a multiyear authorization of CFATS to afford our members greater regulatory certainty. In testimony before Congress earlier this year, Kate Donahue, president of Socma and member Hampford Research, says, “Responsible companies like Hampford want the CFATS program—but we want a stable and predictable program.” Long-term authorization of CFATS will give our members an added level of confidence to implement CFATS from both financial and logistical standpoints. They can more effectively plan for the future knowing the efforts made on safety and security upgrades will continue to comply with relevant federal standards. 

As it stands now, the program’s existence continues to hang in the balance, depending on reauthorization through the continuing resolution process. This means reauthorization depends on those 11th-hour "deals" struck in Congress to keep the government from shutting down for another few months. This unpredictable schedule breeds uncertainty for our industry and ultimately jeopardizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to regulate security at high-risk chemical facilities.

While it may not be perfect, and Socma continues to influence enhancements to the current law, CFATS has proven effective. In fact, I would argue that today’s CFATS program is working better than ever. Since 2007, more than 3,000 facilities have changed their processes or inventories, enabling them to screen out of the program. DHS has also ramped up conducting authorization inspections and approving site security plans. Most importantly, DHS continues to engage in active dialogue with industry stakeholders, encouraging their feedback and implementing appropriate modifications. H.R. 4007 will allow DHS and industry to continue this momentum toward superior chemical safety and security procedures. 

Now that the bill has cleared a huge hurdle in the House, our attention turns to the Senate. We are hopeful the bipartisan support H.R. 4007 received in the Lower Chamber will smooth the way for passage in the Senate. Our team will continue to work closely with Senate staff to ensure this critical piece of legislation moves forward. 

The passage of H.R. 4007 will be among key topics of discussion next week at the Chemical Sector Security Summit at Baltimore. This is a great venue for members of the chemical community to network and hear from Congressional staff and government officials who help craft and carry out the laws that govern our industry. With all the current movement on chemical safety and security issues, I would not want to miss it. Hope to see you there.













 
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