Bipartisan Chemical Security Bill Introduced in Senate, SOCMA Announces Support

Last week Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to extend the current chemical security standards, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act Standards (CFATS), which are set to expire this October, until 2015. SOCMA has been anticipating since late last year this action by Senator Collins, who is the Ranking Member on the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee. Two Democrats — Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) — signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

This is a significant achievement for supporters of a bipartisan approach to permanently securing our industry against terrorism. Unlike the House, which passed a controversial bill last year with no Republican support, the Senate’s first bill to make permanent the current CFATS rules is currently supported by an even number of senators from both parties. As she introduced her bill on the Senate floor last week, Senator Collins mentioned SOCMA’s testimony last year to help explain why the bill does not include the most controversial provision in the House bill — inherently safer technology (IST) — demonstrating SOCMA’s continued leadership.

“Forcing chemical facilities to implement IST could wreak economic havoc on some facilities and affect the availability of products that all Americans take for granted,” Senator Collins said. “For instance, according to October 2009 testimony by the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, mandatory IST would negatively restrict the production of pharmaceuticals and microelectronics, unnecessarily crippling those industries.” SOCMA announced its support immediately following the bill’s introduction.

“The bipartisan leadership shown by these senators is precisely what our nation needs when it comes to securing the homeland. We applaud them for ensuring the continuation of the comprehensive Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act Standards,” said Bill Allmond, SOCMA’s Vice President of Government Relations and ChemStewards®. “We hope this bill is the start of a new beginning toward a bipartisan solution to a permanent chemical security law.” SOCMA CONNECT, our grassroots initiative, will soon have ready a letter for members to use to urge their senators to become a co-sponsor of the bill.