Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and six other Members of the Committee joined Rep. Dan Lungren, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, in introducing legislation to ensure security at U.S chemical facilities while preserving the ability of American companies and other regulated facilities to compete, remain innovative, and create jobs. The introduction comes a week after a Saudi chemical engineering student was arrested on terror charges in Texas after purchasing chemical ingredients for bombs in an alleged plot against former President George W. Bush and sites in New York City.
The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011, H.R. 901, extends by seven years the authority of DHS to regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities.
Chairman King said: "As evidenced by the arrest last week in Texas, chemicals remain a top terrorist tool of choice. We must continue our work to secure our high-risk chemical facilities from terrorists, especially those near densely populated urban areas. With DHS on track implementing its existing chemical security regulations, Congress must ensure that DHS's current authority is extended in a manner that protects our homeland without additional burdensome and costly requirements or job-crushing mandates. This seven-year extension of current authority is a common sense path forward. I greatly appreciate Dan Lungren's leadership on this issue."
Subcommittee Chairman Lungren stated that "chemical facility security has been a high priority for me since I introduced my chemical facility security legislation in 2006. My legislation served as the model for Section 550 of the Department's Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, which authorized the current Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). These standards have improved security at our chemical facilities and protected our communities from terrorist attack. We must not stop our chemical security efforts midstream. A longer term extension is necessary to complete implementation and realize the full benefit of our chemical security investments."
In 2006, Congress passed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007 which authorized DHS to regulate security of high-risk chemical facilities and establish "risk-based performance standards." In response, in June 2007, DHS developed and issued the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), requiring high-risk chemical facilities to complete Security Vulnerability Assessments, develop Site Security Plans, and implement protective measures necessary to meet risk-based performance standards established by DHS.
DHS is still in the process of fully implementing CFATS. To date, DHS has reviewed information submitted by more than 39,000 chemical facilities and determined that 4,744 are high-risk and, therefore, covered under CFATS. Congress has previously extended CFATS authority, but current statutory authority will expire this month.
H.R. 901 ensures that the current CFATS program will be fully implemented by extending the CFATS regulations by seven years and codifying the authority within the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
H.R. 901 does not impose additional requirements on chemical facilities. The legislation does not include language mandating so-called inherently safer technologies; allowing civil lawsuits; or extending CFATS regulations to facilities that have been exempt such as drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
In addition to Lungren and King, original co-sponsors include Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), all Members of the Committee on Homeland Security.