Johnson, Capito Urge House to Reform and Reauthorize Program to Protect and Secure Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chairman of the Committee on Appropriations’ homeland security subcommittee, sent a letter to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday, urging them to continue work to pass legislation that reforms and reauthorizes the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program before the end of the 115th Congress. The Department of Homeland Security’s CFATS program currently regulates over 3,000 high-risk chemical facilities.

“Although DHS has improved its management of the CFATS program over the past four years, such as eliminating the estimated nine-year backlog of reviewing facilities’ unique site security plans, it is evident that the program needs additional reforms,” the senators wrote. “The purpose of the reauthorization process must be to improve federal regulatory programs incorporating lessons learned from Congressional oversight. S. 3405 provides a path for the CFATS program to continue for an additional five years without inflicting burdensome and duplicative regulations on DHS’s industry partners. …We look forward to working with you to reauthorize the CFATS program with commonsense reforms before the conclusion of the 115th Congress.”

The letter can be found here and below.

Under Chairman Johnson’s leadership, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has taken action to reauthorize and reform the CFATS program:

  • June 12, 2018: The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a CFATS roundtable with the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a CFATS chemical inspector, and companies and industry groups.
  • Sept. 4, 2018: Chairman Johnson introduced S. 3405, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorists Attacks Act of 2018.
  • Sept. 26, 2018: S. 3405 was unanimously reported out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs by voice vote.
  • Sept. 28, 2018: Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) introduced H.R. 6992, a bipartisan House companion.
  • Oct. 10, 2018: Senator Capito joined as a cosponsor to S. 3405.

 

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October 23, 2018

 

The Honorable Michael McCaul                               The Honorable Greg Walden

Chairman                                                             Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security                          Committee on Energy and Commerce

U.S. House of Representatives                               U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515                                          Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Bennie Thompson                           The Honorable Frank Pallone  

Ranking Member                                                   Ranking Member

Committee on Homeland Security                           Committee on Energy and Commerce

U.S. House of Representatives                                U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515                                          Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman McCaul, Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Thompson, and Ranking Member Pallone:

 

    We write regarding S. 3405, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018.  This bill will reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with commonsense reforms to secure chemical facilities while reducing the regulatory burden on the private sector.  

 

    During the 113th Congress, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, House Committee on Homeland Security, and House Committee on Energy and Commerce worked together to reauthorize and reform the CFATS program, although the reauthorization is set to expire in January 2019.  At that time, the CFATS program faced significant challenges, including long backlogs to review security plans, a flawed tiering methodology, program management issues, and questions about whether the program was effectively reducing risk and enhancing security. 

 

    The CFATS program currently regulates over 3,000 chemical facilities nationwide.   Although DHS has improved its management of the CFATS program over the past four years, such as eliminating the estimated nine-year backlog of reviewing facilities’ unique site security plans,  it is evident that the program needs additional reforms. On June 12, 2018, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a roundtable that included DHS, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a CFATS chemical inspector, and a variety of companies and industry groups. 

 

    During the roundtable, stakeholders provided feedback on how to further improve the CFATS program.  For example, industry stakeholders expressed concerns about duplicative regulatory regimes between DHS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; advised that DHS should not make terror screening mandatory for Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities; complained about inadequate communication from DHS about changes in facilities’ tiering; and discussed how a CFATS recognition program can provide greater regulatory relief.  We also heard from a CFATS chemical inspector on basic and continuous training issues and need for improvement, particularly with respect to cybersecurity.  In addition, the Committee’s oversight has shown a need for DHS to report on new metrics that will show if the program is effectively measuring risk reduction and addressing the current threat environment.  

 

    Incorporating this feedback from CFATS stakeholders, Chairman Johnson introduced S. 3405 on September 4, 2018.  Senator Capito is a cosponsor. S. 3405 reauthorizes the CFATS program for five years and brings much-needed regulatory relief to the U.S. chemical industry while effectively balancing safety and security.  On September 26, 2018, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported S. 3405 favorably by voice vote.  On September 28, 2018, Rep. Katko, Rep. Moolenaar, and Rep. Cuellar introduced H.R. 6992, a bipartisan House companion. 

 

    In the coming weeks, we hope the committees of jurisdiction will continue to work together, as they have throughout this Congress, to find areas of agreement to reauthorize and improve the CFATS program. The purpose of the reauthorization process must be to improve federal regulatory programs incorporating lessons learned from Congressional oversight. S. 3405 provides a path for the CFATS program to continue for an additional five years without inflicting burdensome and duplicative regulations on DHS’s industry partners. If Congress fails to reform the CFATS program, we believe the program should expire and not continue to be reauthorized via annual appropriations.

 

    We look forward to working with you to reauthorize the CFATS program with commonsense reforms before the conclusion of the 115th Congress. Thank you for your attention to this important subject.

 

       Sincerely,

 

Ron Johnson                                                                      Shelley Moore Capito

Chairman                                                                            Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security                          Subcommittee on Homeland Security

and Governmental Affairs                                          Committee on Appropriations

 

cc:          The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader

 

                The Honorable Charles Schumer

                Senate Minority Leader

 

                The Honorable Paul Ryan

                Speaker of the House

                U.S. House of Representatives

 

                The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

                Minority Leader

                U.S. House of Representatives

 

                The Honorable Claire McCaskill

                Ranking Member

                United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

 

                The Honorable Richard Shelby

                Chairman, United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

 

                The Honorable Patrick Leahy

                Vice Chairman, United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

 

                The Honorable Jon Tester

                Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

                United States Senate Committee on Appropriations

               

                The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen

                Chairman, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

 

                The Honorable Nita Lowey

                Ranking Member, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

 

                The Honorable Kevin Yoder

                Chairman, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

                U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

               

                The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard

                Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Homeland Security

                U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

 

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