The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would take a number of steps to improve the Department of Homeland Security's chemical security program. The substitute amendment introduced by Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), The Protecting and Securing American Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014, would reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program (CFATS) until 2018, strengthen management practices and whistleblower protections, simplify reporting and information sharing practices, and provide programmatic stability for the next four years. In May, the Committee held a hearing to examine the current state of the CFATS program and the need to reauthorize it.
"Chemicals -- including dangerous ones - play an important role in our economy and our daily lives. That's why it is crucial that the federal government and industry work together to ensure chemicals are being produced, handled and stored in a manner that is both safe and secure," Chairman Carper said. "While the Administration has made significant improvements to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program over the past year, it is clear that the current program is in need of reform. Dr. Coburn and I have worked closely with the Administration and stakeholders to examine the effectiveness of existing chemical security regulations and identify whether additional steps should be taken to address concerns that have been raised over the years by the chemical industry and better protect the public from those who might use dangerous substances to do us harm. This compromise builds on the strong bipartisan work done by our colleagues in the House, and gives the Department of Homeland Security the tools it needs to continue making the kind of robust improvements we've seen over the past year. Most importantly, it provides a longer term authorization, creating more predictability and certainty for the Department and industry alike. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill in the full Senate."
"Since its creation, the CFATS program has been beset by chronic mismanagement, missed goals, backlogs, and regulatory excess. This program exists to increase our nation's security against attacks on chemical facilities, but it hasn't adequately met that goal. Combined with the current leadership at CFATS, I am confident this bill will provide the necessary fixes to put the program on track to reducing our nation's vulnerability to chemical terrorism," Dr. Coburn said.