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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - May 26, 2005)

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S. 1141

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``Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2005''

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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I stand today in support of legislation that will better protect our homeland by securing the trade and handling of ammonium nitrate. While ammonium nitrate is well known in the agriculture community to be an important fertilizer, it has also become a common ingredient in creating highly explosive bombs like the one used in the unforgettable April 1995 bombing attack of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A little more than a month ago, we reflected on the tenth anniversary of this tragic moment in our nation's history. Despite the enormous potential for misuse if in the wrong hands, the purchase and use of ammonium nitrate is still largely unregulated by the federal government. It is our hope that we can reduce this potential for misuse. By better securing the trade and handling of this chemical, we will make it more difficult for individuals and groups to misuse the chemical and threaten the lives of Americans. The purpose of our legislation is to protect our homeland from future threats and attacks that may be similar in nature to that of the Oklahoma City Bombing while still ensuring that law abiding citizens can use this valuable fertilizer for agricultural activities.

Fertilizer provides essential nutrients to the food we eat by providing an effective source of nitrogen that all crops need to grow. I recognize the importance of fertilizer to our Nation's farming community, and that is why I believe that we must continue the availability of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to farmers in order to maintain the economic, agronomic and environmental benefits that this product provides. I also understand the negative impact of that fertilizer can have on our people if misused by criminals intent on engaging in acts of terror.

Since the 1995 Oklahoma City tragedy, many studies have been conducted by the Federal Government to determine the feasibility and practicability of imposing controls on certain precursor chemicals, including ammonium nitrate. In addition, the fertilizer industry and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) created the ``America's Security Begins with You'' ammonium nitrate security campaign in 1995 as an effort to minimize possible misuse of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. These studies and campaigns have both led to show that it is impossible for the agricultural community to guarantee against the criminal misuse of ammonium nitrate under current laws and regulations and that more can and should be done to protect against this threat.

The agricultural community and the fertilizer industry both recognize that more can and should be done to strengthen the controls regarding the handling and purchase of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in order to ensure American farmers continue to have access to this valued input. I believe that the Federal government must do its part in helping to assure that ammonium nitrate fertilizer stays in the hands of agricultural professionals and encourage all who handle this chemical to protect their community and America by establishing effective security measures.

I am proud to join my colleague from Mississippi, Senator COCHRAN, in introducing this legislation along with Senator CHAMBLISS and Senator ROBERTS. I believe it provides a very

practical and workable solution to enhance the secure handling of ammonium nitrate and ensure that ammonium nitrate remains available for agricultural use. ``The Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2005'' calls for a federal and state cooperation to secure ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It requires the Department of Homeland Security to enter into cooperative agreements with state departments of agriculture to ensure that any person who produces, stores, sells, or distributes ammonium nitrate registers their facility and maintains records of sales or distribution of the product. As such, purchasers of ammonium nitrate would also be required to register with their state's department of agriculture.

My colleagues and I agree that these requirements are necessary measures that provide additional security for ammonium nitrate fertilizer and will not unduly burden agriculture professionals or farmers who use this product. Furthermore, we firmly believe that this legislation will effectively enhance ongoing security measures by helping to keep ammonium nitrate out of the hands of those who wish to harm our Nation.

I thank the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Chairmen of the Agriculture and Intelligence Committees for their leadership on this issue, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this important legislation.

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