Congressional Spending Panel Approves Senator Collins, Rep King’s, Chemical Security Provision

An agreement reached last week by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) on bipartisan chemical security legislation has been approved by a Senate-House negotiating panel and will be included in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Report for FY07.

“This is major step forward in our efforts to better secure our homeland. Many homeland security experts, including Secretary Chertoff, have said time and time again that our nation’s chemical facilities pose a threat that must be immediately addressed. Our chemical security provisions, which represent two years of work and negotiations with a number of my colleagues, will, for the first time, provide DHS with the authority to require security measures at more than 3, 400 chemical facilities. The bill provides the Secretary with the strongest possible authority to enforce those standards by empowering the Secretary to shut down a facility that does not meet security standards. This is critical legislation, and I am pleased that it will be included in the DHS spending bill,” said Senator Collins.

The Collins-King agreement included in the DHS Appropriations Act Conference Report would:
• For the first time, give DHS the authority to require high-risk chemical plants to implement security measures.
• Direct DHS to establish risk-based and performance-based standards for chemical facilities to help protect against terrorist attacks.
• Require chemical plants to conduct vulnerability assessments and create and implement site security plans based on their specific vulnerabilities, subject to approval by the Secretary of DHS.
• Give DHS the authority to require compliance with its security requirements, including the authority to audit and inspect facilities, and to shut down a facility if it is not complying.
• Provide strong interim authority for up to three years until permanent, comprehensive authority is enacted.