CFATS Reauthorization May Take a Step Forward

The Senate bill that would reauthorize the CFATS mandate through October 4, 2015 looks like it will be marked up or voted on later this month. The bill was introduced in March of this year by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and had a hearing in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Many legislative watchers thought this bill might not make it to a vote this session because of all of the other things, like healthcare and financial reform, diverting the focus. That combined with the distraction of mid-term elections made it look like the bill was dead in the water for now. Now, Collins has said she expects the bill will move forward. It appears she may have garnered bi-partisan support.

Collins' bill has support from the chemical industry because it would allow DHS to continue the program it started. Other legislation that was passed in the house this year includes an Inherently Safer Technologies mandate. Many feel it is vague and would place an undue burden on companies that use, make and store chemicals. It might require companies to revamp processes and possibly take business off shore.

I had the privilege of speaking at the Chemical Industry Council of California's (CICC) "Chemical Security & Legislative Updates" in Sacramento last week. Larry Sloan of SOCMA gave the keynote presentation. SOCMA has been a real proponent of the Collins bill and Larry stressed how important it is for the industry to educate all of the stakeholders in chemical security. He urged the education of legislators and encouraged companies to provide tours of their plants, so that elected officials will understand the work that is being done and how it affects all parts of the economy. But, Larry reminded all of us that educating the politicians isn't enough. We need to reach out to employees and the public, so that they understand the importance of the industry in our everyday lives.


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