Senate Passes Bill to Improve Chemical Security Nationwide

WASHINGTON- Today, the Senate approved legislation that would take a number of steps to update and improve the government’s chemical security program. The bipartisan H.R. 4007, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014, reestablishes the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards Program (CFATS) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and implements a series of important changes to make the program more efficient and effective.

The bill would reauthorize the CFATS program for four years, establish a voluntary new expedited approval procedure for site security plans for certain chemical facilities, improve aspects of information sharing with state and local officials, and enhance the Department’s ability to identify high-risk chemical facilities that otherwise go unmonitored. H.R. 4007, which passed the House with bipartisan support earlier this year, includes measures based on a substitute amendment by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The Committee held a hearing examining the program earlier this year.

“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,” Chairman Carper said. “This bipartisan bill takes important steps and provides necessary adjustments to ensure that this program within the Department of Homeland Security sets out an efficient and effective path to help chemical facilities safeguard their premises and hazardous materials against the risk of a terrorist attack. More important, this legislation provides a longer term authorization, increasing certainty and stability for both the Department of Homeland Security and the chemical industry. I thank my colleagues in the Senate for supporting this critical piece of bipartisan legislation and I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to support its passage into law.

“It is essential that we secure our chemical facilities against terrorist attack,” Ranking Member 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 (CFATS) program. My report on CFATS earlier this year, as well as countless reports from GAO and the DHS Inspector General, revealed the CFATS program was simply not working. This bill would overhaul CFATS, adopting recommendations in past reviews and putting CFATS on track to reducing our nation’s vulnerabilities to chemical terrorism.”