Eight Democrats voted in favor of the legislation: Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX), Rep. Kathy Hochul (NY), Rep. William Keating (MA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Rep. Laura Richardson (CA), Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (CA).
SOCMA welcomed the committee’s endorsement of the legislation which would extend the existing Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) by seven years to 2018 and give chemical facilities and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to more fully implement the regulation, rather than significantly altering the existing rules. During the vote, committee member Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), who introduced the bill, mentioned SOCMA’s opposition to including a provision on inherently safer technology (IST), which would require chemical companies to substitute materials that DHS deems hazardous with materials they consider less harmful.
"We are pleased with the expeditious approval of H.R. 908 and H.R. 901 by their respective committees and encourage House leadership to act swiftly to bring one of these chemical security bills to the floor for a vote," said Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s vice president of government relations.
"SOCMA also appreciates the return of bipartisanship to this committee to ensure long-term chemical security under these standards, something that had been absent since 2006," Allmond added. "SOCMA worked hard with both sides of the aisle to encourage continued support of these comprehensive standards."
Allmond said it’s now up to House leadership to work out a compromise between the two security bills or to decide which one will advance to a vote by the full House of Representatives.
During the proceedings, the committee also approved by voice vote the following SOCMA-supported amendments to H.R. 901:
* An amendment on personnel surety, similar to that which was adopted to H.R. 908 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee
* An amendment requiring a report on harmonization between CFATS and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)
* An amendment setting deadlines for DHS to follow up with facilities regarding their security vulnerability assessment or site security plan 180 days after DHS receives it.
SOCMA helped secure passage of the bill with its testimony in March before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, as well as its Washington Fly-In, during which over 35 members met with their representatives in Congress in April to discuss this issue. SOCMA also submitted written testimony to the Homeland Security Committee during its first hearing on chemical security in the 112th Congress.
The future of the CFATS program will be among the topics discussed at the 2011 Chemical Sector Security Summit, July 6-7, in Baltimore. The annual event, co-funded by DHS and SOCMA, will feature a congressional panel discussion on current legislation to extend the program.
For more information about SOCMA’s position on chemical site security, visit www.socma.com/ist.