WASHINGTON, DC – President Trump signed into law this week a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), James Lankford (R-OK), Tom Carper (D-DE) and other Senate colleagues to strengthen our national security by extending the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for three years. The program, created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ensures that facilities holding high-risk chemicals have security measures in place to reduce the risk of chemicals being stolen or weaponized by terrorists. The Senators serve on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters is the Ranking Member.
“As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am focused on protecting our national security and doing everything we can to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States using dangerous chemicals,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to prevent this vital anti-terrorism program from expiring. While there is still work to be done to ensure this program is as effective as possible, this extension ensures that this vital program can continue to help secure American facilities from terrorists.”
“Yesterday, President Trump signed into law a vital tool to protect Americans against a terrorist attack. Something that Oklahomans know all too well as the chemicals they regulate under the CFATS law were the same used in the OKC bombing 25-years ago,” said Senator Lankford, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “This reauthorization protects companies that produce or store chemicals by allowing them to partner with federal agencies to help them identify any possible vulnerabilities of their facilities and develop a site security plan. I was grateful to join with Senators Peters, Johnson, and Carper to make sure my state and the rest of the nation had this important protection in place.”
“It is critical that the federal government and industry work together to secure the chemicals that could become weapons in the hands of terrorists or others who might wish to do harm, as well as the facilities that hold those substances,” Senator Carper said. “In 2013, we saw a deadly explosion occur at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas that stored potentially dangerous chemicals. Tragically, this blast, which killed 15 people, injured over 200 and destroyed over 500 homes in the surrounding area, was entirely preventable. It was after that horrific incident that I got to work with my friend from Oklahoma, the late-Senator Tom Coburn, to draft and pass the first multi-year authorization of the CFATS program. Extending this program increases certainty and predictability for both DHS and the chemical industry, and will help to ensure that chemical facilities across this country safeguard their premises and hazardous materials against the risk of a terrorist attack. I thank my colleagues in the Senate and the House, especially Ranking Member Peters and Senator Lankford, for supporting this important piece of bipartisan legislation that bolsters our national security, and I am pleased that it continues to be the law of the land.”
The CFATS program was created after national security experts recognized a security vulnerability among chemical facilities following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing. The program received its first multi-year authorization in 2014 thanks to the work of Senator Carper and the late Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). In recent years, CFATS has faced uncertainty, including several short-term extensions. Last year, Peters helped broker an agreement to keep the program from expiring. Peters, Lankford and Carper then worked with their colleagues on a bipartisan basis to extend the critical national security program for another three years. Though the program would benefit from additional reforms, this legislation ensures that our nation’s chemical facilities are secure as our nation continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.