WASHINGTON- Today, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would take a number of steps to update and improve the government’s chemical security program. The bipartisan H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014, reauthorizes the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards Program (CFATS) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and implements a series of important changes to make the program more efficient and effective.
The bill, which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, reauthorizes the CFATS program for four years, establishes a voluntary new expedited approval procedure for site security plans for certain chemical facilities, improves aspects of information sharing with state and local officials, and enhances the Department’s ability to identify high-risk chemical facilities that otherwise go unmonitored. H.R. 4007, which passed the House with bipartisan support earlier this year, includes measures based on a substitute amendment by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The Committee held a hearing examining the program earlier this year.
“First and foremost, I thank my colleague and partner in leading the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Dr. Coburn, for his tireless efforts and leadership on this bill. This compromise would not have been possible without Dr. Coburn and the diligent work and dedication of him and his staff,” said Chairman Carper. “Chemicals – including dangerous ones – play a vitally important role in our economy and our daily lives. That’s why it is so crucial that the federal government and industry work together to ensure the security of facilities and substances that could become weapons in the hands of terrorists or others who wish to do harm. This bipartisan bill will take critically important steps and provide necessary adjustments to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards Program bolsters our national chemical security and sets out an efficient and effective path to help chemical facilities safeguard their premises and hazardous materials against the risk of a terrorist attack. It also provides much-needed certainty for both the Department of Homeland Security and the chemical industry. I commend my colleagues in the House helping take it across the finish line and to the President’s desk.”
“It is essential that we secure our chemical facilities against terrorist attack,” Ranking Member Coburn said. “For the last seven years, the Department of Homeland Security has struggled to implement a program designed to do just that — its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. My report on CFATS earlier this year, as well as countless reports from GAO and the DHS Inspector General, revealed the CFATS program was simply not working. This bill would overhaul CFATS, adopting recommendations in past reviews and putting CFATS on track to reducing our nation’s vulnerabilities to chemical terrorism.”