CFATS to Get Temporary Extension

It looks like Congress is about to temporarily extend CFATS legislation. The temporary fix is a provision contained in the fiscal 2011 stopgap spending bill. Existing CFATS legislation is due to expire this month and the new bill would only delay that until December 3, 2010.

The current lame duck Congress is having a hard time agreeing on provisions to permanently extend the legislation. Generally, Democrats favor an Inherently Safer Technologies (IST) provision that would require some facilities using, storing and manufacturing certain chemicals to possibly change processes and the chemicals used. Many Congressional Republicans have expressed concerns about the IST provision putting too much of a burden on chemical facilities at a time when the economy is still struggling and many smaller chemical companies would find it difficult to implement extensive changes in processes. There is some fear that it would cost too much and put jobs in jeopardy.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I. Conn) heads up the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is in favor of an IST provision. He also has said that he would like to pass a bill that will fill some of the gaps in the current legislation including an exemption for drinking water plants. Many experts following the legislation do not think that an agreement can be reached in this session of Congress.

As I have said before, DHS and the chemical industry have made great strides under the current legislation. Real progress has been made and we are beginning to see the implementation and approval of Site Security Plans change link to our SSP paper (SSP) for Tier 1 (those with the highest risk) facilities. Congress has been trying to address chemical security since 9/11 and it has taken time to get the process and momentum needed. It would be disheartening to see the new legislation get lost in the debate.

 

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