CFATS Extension Passes Congress

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 @ 05:12 PM gHale

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) extended out another four years.

That is because the past Thursday the House unanimously passed the Senate amendment to the bipartisan Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014 and then the Senate passed it Wednesday.

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The bill is an amended version of legislation reported out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and approved by the House earlier this year.

The bill reauthorizes the CFATS program for four years, establishes a voluntary new expedited approval procedure for site security plans for certain chemical facilities, improves aspects of information sharing with state and local officials and enhances the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to identify high-risk chemical facilities that otherwise go unmonitored.

The bill includes measures based on a substitute amendment by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and ranking member Tom Coburn (R-OK). The committee held a hearing examining the program earlier this year.

“The bill passed by Congress today makes fundamental improvements to the CFATS program and provides the stability and certainty both the department and industry have been calling for,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

“Chemicals – including dangerous ones — play a vitally important role in our economy and our daily lives. That’s why it is crucial that the federal government and industry work together to ensure the security of facilities and substances that could become weapons in the hands of terrorists or others who wish to do harm,” Carper said.

“More important, this legislation provides a longer term authorization, increasing certainty and stability for both the Department of Homeland Security and the chemical industry,” Carper said.

“It is essential that we secure our chemical facilities against terrorist attack,” Coburn said. “For the last seven years, the Department of Homeland Security has struggled to implement a program designed to do just that — its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program. This bill would overhaul CFATS, adopting recommendations in past reviews and putting CFATS on track to reducing our nation’s vulnerabilities to chemical terrorism.”

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