CFATS Reauthorization Bill Markup Expected Next Month

Lodged in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee since March, S. 2996 sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is expected to be marked up in July, said SOCMA Government Relations VP Bill Allmond.

The main congressional bill to reauthorize the DHS Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program is about to move forward. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which already has held hearings on S. 2996, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the committee's ranking member, is expected to be marked up in July, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, Inc. (SOCMA) Government Relations VP Bill Allmond said June 24. The committee marked up a cybersecurity bill, S. 3480, that day.

"I think she secured some Democratic backing for the bill. We're excited by her support. She's very passionate about the reauthorization of CFATS as it is," Allmond said. "The system is working. It's a collaborative effort between DHS and industry, putting together a program that makes practical sense. She's been a real staunch supporter and has garnered support on both sides of the aisle, so we're optimistic that the markup will go in our favor next month."

Reauthorizing CFATS is a top priority for SOCMA this year. Based in Washington, D.C., it is a trade association for the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry, including manufacturers, users, and distributors of these intermediates and products. Collins' bill would not mandate use of inherently safer technologies (IST), which pleases both SOCMA and the American Chemistry Council. They maintain IST is not measurable and could be a jobs killer, even a company killer, if mandated by Congress.

CFATS is a performance-based standard, and mandating that the industry use IST would depart from that approach, said Allmond.

"Nobody can agree on what exactly IST is," said Larry Sloan, SOCMA's president and CEO, adding that SOCMA and DHS have made progress at defining it. "IST is brilliantly named: inherently safer technology. But it's the procedure in which it would be implemented that is of concern to the industry," he explained. "It really puts the power into DHS to define what is considered a safer technology, and that really should be left up to private industry to make that determination."

S. 2996 is the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2010. It would reauthorize CFATS through Oct. 4, 2015.

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