Congress Bolsters Drone Regulations to Protect Chemical Facilities

May 20, 2024
The American Chemistry Council praises the new FAA reauthorization bill, which establishes no-fly zones and a risk-based approach for hazardous material transport.

Drones have been perceived as both a risk and potential benefit for chemical processing companies. Many companies have begun to use drones to improve emissions monitoring and maintenance. However, there is concern that drones could also be misused by bad actors.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) commended Congress on May 16 for passing a bill that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to protect critical infrastructure, including chemical facilities, from drone-related risks.

The bill includes two key provisions. First, it directs the FAA to create "no-fly zones" for unauthorized drone operations over or near critical infrastructure, such as chemical facilities. The ACC states that the FAA is long overdue to complete this rule.

The bill also establishes a risk-based approach for authorizing the use of drones to transport hazardous materials.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), criminals could potentially use drones as weapons, transport smuggled payloads, steal intellectual property, commit cyber crimes or intentionally disrupt or harass industries.

Ryan Jackson, vice president of federal affairs at ACC, acknowledged that while the bill is a positive step, Congress can do more to protect chemical facilities against drone threats.

"ACC strongly encourages Congress to also pass legislation that would provide the government with the additional tools it needs to guard critical infrastructure from dangerous drone operations," he said.

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