American Coatings Association

Congress Considers CFATS Reauthorization


Last month, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and House Energy and Water Subcommittee on Environment held hearings on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Authorization for the current CFATS standards will sunset in January 2019. As Congress considers reauthorization, it is seeking industry input from industry to include some legislative “fixes” in the reauthorization text. Concerns with the current CFATS program raised at the Congressional hearings include: backlogs to review security plans; a flawed categorizing methodology; questions about the program’s security value and potential duplication with other regulatory regimes and the absence of effective metrics to measure the value of security investments.

The CFATS program focuses on preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged or deliberately released by terrorists or other bad actors. CFATS currently covers approximately 3,400 chemical facilities that have been assessed to present a high risk of terrorist attack or exploitation.

Under the 2006 law establishing the CFATS program, chemical facilities possessing more than a threshold amount of specific explosive, toxic, or other “chemicals of interest” have been required to complete a “top-screen,” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once a facility submits its top-screen, DHS can direct the facility to submit an SVA, and based on that document, assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, an action that triggers a requirement to submit an SSP (or an Alternative Security Plan, or ASP) to DHS for authorization and approval.

ACA’s members own and operate paint, coatings, resin, and chemical manufacturing facilities that are potentially subject to the CFATS provisions, and many ACA members have previously submitted top-screens identifying chemicals of interest and have been assigned preliminary or final tiers by the department. As a result, many ACA member companies have become subject to the CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards.

Dave Wulf, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, provided testimony at the Senate committee roundtable on CFATS. Wulf stressed that since its inception, the CFATS program has worked with companies to implement tens of thousands of security measures that reduce the risk posed by more than 300 potentially dangerous chemicals.

“From perimeter controls to cyber security measures, CFATS has been very successful in enhancing security at high-risk chemical facilities. The program is targeted at the highest-risk facilities and, importantly given the diversity of the chemical sector, it is a flexible regulatory framework, providing a non-prescriptive set of standards that can be tailored to a company’s operating environment. We have built a regulatory environment grounded in continuous, constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders—a cooperative approach that is on display this week in Oakland as government and industry stakeholders gather to discuss security-related best practices and CFATS policies. This culture of security we have worked together to foster is the envy of the world, having made a truly hard target of America’s highest-risk facilities and serving as a deterrent to adversaries.”

Contact ACA’s Allen Irish for more information.