Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed, by a strong bipartisan 26-5 vote, H.R. 901, the "Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011."
The legislation, as amended, provides for a seven-year extension to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) authority to regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities.
H.R. 901 was introduced on March 4 by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, and is co-sponsored by Full Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-NY) and 8 other Committee Members.
Chairman King said: "Securing our Nation's chemical facilities against terrorist attacks is critical to securing our homeland. The strongly bipartisan vote to pass H.R. 901 today demonstrates that it is common sense legislation that provides a straightforward way for DHS to continue its implementation of CFATS without imposing additional burdensome, costly, job-crushing regulations on the chemical industry. Without this important legislation, DHS will not be able to continue its work-in-progress of protecting high-risk chemical facilities, their employees, and American citizens living near these facilities. I appreciate Subcommittee Chairman Lungren's leadership on this issue."
Subcommittee Chairman Lungren said: "Chemical facilities are a known target of terrorist interest, and I am very pleased that the Homeland Security Committee passed my chemical facility anti-terrorism bill (HR 901) today with a bipartisan vote. My bill extends the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Standards (CFATS) enacted in 2006 for an additional 7 years. This gives industry time to complete their high-risk security investments with confidence that the CFATS program will be continued. It also reaffirms Congress' commitment to fight terrorism by improving the security of this Nation's chemical facilities."
In 2006, Congress first authorized DHS to regulate security at high-risk chemical facilities. In response, DHS developed the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which require 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, necessitating an extension of the existing regulatory authority. 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.
H.R. 901, as passed by the Committee today, does not impose additional burdensome or costly 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, H.R. 901 is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), all of whom are Members of the Committee on Homeland Security.