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Five Minutes of Your Time for Five Years of CFATS Stability

Five Minutes of Your Time for Five Years of CFATS Stability

Last spring, I drafted a blog advocating for Congress to approve a long-term authorization bill for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) that is set to expire January 19, 2019. The impetus for the piece was for Congress not to wait until the very end of the year when the mid-term elections could politicize what is a bipartisan legislative measure. Unfortunately, that very scenario is now taking place, but successful approval of a long-term reauthorization bill is still possible with your help.

As a reminder, 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 exacerbated these issues. In 2014, however, Congress passed H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attack Act of 2014, which granted a four-year authorization to the program. This multi-year authorization resulted in stability for the CFATS program and enhanced a coordinated effort between government and industry to secure the nation’s high-risk chemical facilities better through smart and efficient security investments.

Over the last six-months, NACD has been aggressively leading efforts in Washington pursuing congressional reauthorization of the CFATS program and accomplishing the following:

  • More than two-dozen members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives encouraged committee leaders with jurisdiction over CFATS to introduce and shepherd through Congress a long-term reauthorization bill.
  • NACD Government Advocacy Committee Vice Chair and Columbus Chemical President Randy Eppli and NACD Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Jennifer Gibson testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in June on CFATS reauthorization. Two days later, NACD Chairman and Brown Chemical President and CEO Doug Brown testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, highlighting the need for a long-term reauthorization.
  • Introduction of S. 3405, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2018, was offered by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). The bill passed committee and was ordered to be reported favorably with amendments.
  • Introduction of H.R. 6992, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks of 2018, was offered by Congressman John Katko (R-NY) and co-sponsored by Congressmen John Moolenaar (R-MI) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX). This measure now has 10 co-sponsors and counting!

We continue to secure support for the House and Senate bills, but we still need your assistance! Please take a moment to complete our grassroots alert on these bills and then ask your company colleagues to do the same. Pass the alert around to friends in the industry, highlighting the importance of Congress passing this bill before the end of the year. Our industry needs to act today to ensure this important program does not get mired in the political quagmire that ultimately ensues here in Washington after an election. 

Remember, five minutes of your time to complete our alert could mean five more years of stability for a solid security program that works for the chemical industry!