While it may seem just like yesterday that we were advocating for Congress to approve a long-term authorization bill for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), we are now nine months away from the program expiring. While to many this may seem like plenty of time to secure another long-term bill, for Congress it is hardly any time at all.
As a refresher, the CFATS program was created in 2007 to help prevent terrorist attacks on high-risk chemical facilities. This DHS-administered program requires covered chemical facilities to prepare Security Vulnerability Assessments and implement Site Security Plans (SSPs) that must satisfy the risk-based performance standards outlined in the rule. The CFATS program had a slow start, suffering from departmental turnover and a severe backlog in authorizing and approving SSPs. A history of one-year and partial-year extensions of the program granted under the appropriations legislation have exacerbated these issues.
In 2014, however, Congress passed H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attack Act of 2014. It granted a four-year authorization to the program, ensuring a coordinated effort between government and industry to secure the nation’s high-risk chemical facilities through smarter and more efficient security investments. Unfortunately, it expires on Jan. 19, 2019.
Fast forward to today. NACD and our industry partners are now working with Congressional leaders to ensure that a long-term CFATS bill is introduced, considered and ultimately voted on by both chambers before Congress adjourns for its summer recess this August. Our priorities are very simple during this process:
A few weeks ago, NACD launched a campaign to ensure that Congress takes action soon to reauthorize this program.
First, we led an effort as part of the CFATS Coalition to send an industry letter to Congressional leaders encouraging them to make CFATS reauthorization legislation an immediate priority. We have already received very positive feedback with indications that legislation could be introduced in the coming weeks. In addition to this letter, the CFATS Coalition has been meeting regularly to push a bill being introduced.
Second, NACD has been meeting with Members of Congress and staff to highlight the importance of Congress acting quickly to reauthorize this important program.
Finally, as one of our top priorities during our upcoming Washington Fly-In next month, NACD will be asking our members to address the importance of CFATS reauthorization legislation with their House and Senate legislators.
With 2018 being a midterm election year, time is precious and a bipartisan issue like CFATS must not be lost in the political shuffle.