Looks Like a Busy Summer for CFATS Legislation

Last month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 908, the Full Implementation of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) which would extend the current CFATS legislation until 2018. It was a bi-partisan vote (33-16) with several democrats supporting the bill. Now, the House Homeland Security Committee has also passed H.R. 901, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorist Security Authorization Act of 2011 which would also extend the legislation for seven years. Bi-partisan support for this bill was even stronger with eight democrats voting in favor of its passage.


The two bills H.R. 901 and 908 are very similar. The difference is that H.R. 901 represents a change in jurisdiction for CFATS. It would put the Homeland Security Committee in charge of CFATS legislation instead of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies. Both bills were also supported by Peter King (R-NY), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.


There were a few amendments added to H.R. 901 before it was passed. They included the following:


• An amendment on personal surety similar to the one added to H.R. 908
• An amendment requiring a report on harmonization efforts between CFATS and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)
• An amendment requiring DHS to follow up with facilities on their Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA) or Site Security Plans (SSP) within 180 days of receiving them


Now that both bills have passed in committee the Republican leadership in the House will have to decide which bill will make it to the full house for a vote. The industry is happy with both bills because they extend the current program, that so much time and work has been put into, and because neither bill contains an Inherently Safer Technologies (IST) amendment.


Things are even starting to take shape over in the Senate. The June 29th agenda for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs lists one of the discussion items as S.473, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2011. This legislation was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and would extend CFATS for three years.


It looks like it could be an interesting summer for CFATS as both Houses try to get something passed before current legislation expires in the fall. Check back here, I will try to keep you updated as things unfold.

 

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