House Passes 2-year CFATS Reauthorization Bill, Senate to take up Bill
On Jan. 8, a bill to reauthorize for two years the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 414-3 vote. H.R. 251. Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act, will now be taken up by the Senate, where the legislation is on the chamber’s legislative calendar as the CFATS authorization sunset date of Jan. 19, 2019 speedily approaches.
ACA supports reauthorization, recently urging Congress to act swiftly to provide for a multi-year extension. CFATS is an important program aimed at preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged, or deliberately released by terrorists or other bad actors. DHS CFATS regulations were issued as a final rule in November 2007; however, DHS implements the CFATS program under a variety of short-term authorizations by Congress.
Under CFATS, chemical facilities possessing more than a threshold amount of specific explosive, toxic, or other “chemicals of interest” determined by DHS, are 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 a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA). The SVA provides the basis for DHS to assign the facility to one of four tiers: Tiers 1 and 2 being the highest risk, and Tiers 3 and 4 being the lowest. Tier assignment triggers a requirement to submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) or an Alternative Security Plan (ASP) to DHS for authorization and approval.
CFATS currently covers approximately 3,400 chemical facilities, which have been assessed to present a risk of terrorist attack or exploitation.
While supporting the CFATS program, ACA has sought changes to the program to implement and improve chemical security. ACA submitted recommendations to Congress for CFATS enhancements compiled from ACA’s member companies, who own and operate paint, coatings, resin, or chemical manufacturing facilities. Some of these facilities are subject to CFATS, with a clear majority being classified as Tier 4 facilities, while just a few are Tier 3.
Specifically, ACA has sought the following:
- Greater transparency for CFATS tiering determinations and security plan review;
- Focus on risk-based determinations for personnel surety requirements;
- Regular review of the “chemicals of interest” list; and
- Improved coordination for CFATS with other federal chemical security and safety regulatory programs.
ACA considers CFATS a necessary regulatory scheme to help industry and communities be safer and more secure, and as such, urges Congress to pass long-term reauthorization of the CFATS program. ACA is eager to work with Congress and DHS as it considers ACA’s recommendations, which would give industry regulatory certainty and stability to make prudent risk management decisions and investments.
Contact ACA’s Rhett Cash for more information.