Issue Date: May 9, 2011
Antiterrorism Bill Advances
A House of Representatives Energy & Commerce subcommittee approved legislation by voice vote last week that would extend through fiscal 2017 the current federal program for securing the nation’s chemical facilities against potential terrorist attacks. The bill (H.R. 908), sponsored by Reps. Timothy F. Murphy (R-Pa.) and Gene Green (D-Texas), would reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and give the Department of Homeland Security time to complete implementation of the four-year-old regulatory program (C&EN, April 25, page 29). The measure is strongly supported by the chemical industry, which has been pushing Congress to pass a long-term extension of CFATS without making any significant programmatic changes. But the bill is opposed by environmental and labor groups because it does not give DHS the authority to order the highest risk chemical plants to adopt, where feasible, safer processes or technologies. “Instead of working to protect communities and workers from preventable chemical disasters, Representatives voted to give oil refiners and chemical companies exactly what they want—business as usual," says Rick Hind, legislative director for Greenpeace. The House Homeland Security Committee is considering similar, but separate, legislation (H.R. 901).
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