Big Question: Will We Have CFATS Legislation before Summer?
There seems to be a lot of potential action on CFATS legislation. We have talked about several bills out there that would reauthorize the mandates. In fact, this week the House Energy and Commerce Committee was supposed to mark up H.R. 908, a bill that would extend CFATS for six more years. So far, no word on a day and time for the mark up. What is good about H.R. 908 is that it is a bi-partisan bill introduced by Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) and Gene Green (D-Texas). The bill was passed by the subcommittee and looked like it would move fairly quickly through the committee, but now Green is expressing some reservations according to a blog in The New York Times.
Apparently, Green says that he is not happy with the way the legislation was written by the Republicans. He has been quoted as saying that his mind is not made up and that he was hoping for a better negotiation. A lot of industry experts see this as a real setback for permanent legislation getting passed before the summer recess. That would mean we would all have to wait until fall for any additional action.
Another potential obstacle is a possible change of jurisdiction for CFATS. H.R. 901, legislation proposed by Dan Lungren (D-CA) would put CFATS under the Committee on Homeland Security's subcommittee -- Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies. H.R. 901 is very similar to H.R. 908, but it would extend the mandates for an additional year. A bill without any support from the Democrats would probably have a hard time making it through the Senate.
Senator also Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a bill in March with bi-partisan support, but so far there has been no progress. Collin's S.473 would extend the CFATS program for three years.
Of course, those of us in the industry are looking for the longest extension possible to give facilities some set targets and stability. It would also give us a chance to fully roll out the current mandates. The American Chemical Council (ACC) and the Society for Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) have repeatedly weighed in on this topic calling for a long-term reauthorization. Groups opposing the reauthorization of CFATS have expressed the idea that shorter terms for the mandates would give Congress more oversight and the ability to make adjustments along the way. Industry insiders believe that could be costly and disruptive for the facilities involved.
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