SOCMA President Delivers Opening Remarks at 2014 Security Summit
Remarks by Lawrence D. Sloan, President & CEO
Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA)
at the Eighth Annual Chemical Sector Security Summit
July 23, 2014, Baltimore, MD
Good morning and welcome to the Eighth Annual Chemical Sector Security Summit hosted jointly by the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I am pleased to once again open this outstanding forum where the federal government and the private sector convene and engage in constructive dialog on the needs of chemical safety and security. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us for what will certainly be informative panel discussions and presentations over the next two days.
As the private sector co-chair of this summit for the past eight years, SOCMA is proud to see another impressive turnout. With nearly 600 attendees this year, the Summit remains the largest annual gathering place for chemical safety and security information exchange. Many of you are first-timers and so a special welcome to you is in order. A handful of you have attended every one of these summits since 2007, for which you are to be commended.
Regardless of your level of participation, I am confident that you, like the hundreds before you, will depart this gathering with a greater understanding of the important role you play to help ensure the security of our nation’s chemical facilities.
Those of us here from industry know all too well how chemistry touches every aspect of our lives. From pharmaceuticals to cosmetics, soaps to plastics, and all manner of industrial products, the chemical industry supports virtually every other type of manufacturing in the world. Furthermore, many of you are employed by companies that pay some of the highest salaries to some of the highest skilled workers operating in one of the safest workplaces of all manufacturing sectors. We have such a good story to tell and are the envy of our global competitors.
My college studies in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and my subsequent work as a process engineer instilled in me a profound appreciation for how serious the chemical industry is about chemical risk management and designing plants with redundant safety factors. Our industry invented the concept of inherent safety and we regularly practice it. It’s no wonder that the Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently reports that workers in the chemical industry experience some of the lowest rates of injuries and lost work-day accident rates among American manufacturers.
And yet, sadly, when outliers in our industry experience a tragic incident, our industry is thrust into the media spotlight with the kind of headlines we neither want nor deserve. They remind us that we actually have more work to do. Today more than ever, we must continue to work closely with all levels of government as well as with our supply chain partners to help ensure the safety of our workers, our downstream customers, and the surrounding communities in which we operate. If we commit to engaging one another collaboratively and continually, the outcome will have meaningful, measurable long-term benefits.
A good example of this collaboration has taken place over the past year. Last August, in response to the tragic accident in West, Texas, President Obama directed his Administration to provide recommendations on how to make the nation’s chemical facilities safer and more secure. A working group comprised of DHS, OSHA and EPA assembled listening sessions across the country to hear from many stakeholders about how safety could further be improved. SOCMA, like many of our colleagues in other trade associations and chemical manufacturer representatives, provided input and appreciate the opportunity to have our voices heard on these matters. We are encouraged by some of the recommendations in the final report to the president that include ideas offered up by our industry.
This year’s summit features a distinguished panel—happening in a few short minutes, in fact—that focuses solely on the President’s Executive Order. The panel includes several decision-makers from the Administration.
Making improvements to the safety of our industry’s facilities is one of many priorities we manage every day. It is appropriate to also mention what our industry is doing right with respect to the security of our facilities. For example, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards are being successfully implemented in companies all across America. As a result of the chemical sector’s strong cooperation with DHS, there has been 100% compliance by industry with the requirements to submit Top-Screens, Security Vulnerability Assessments and Site Security Plans. Furthermore, thousands of facilities have changed processes or inventories in ways that have enabled them to screen out of the program. In other words, CFATS is driving facilities to reduce inherent hazards, relying not on regulatory mandates but on the company’s expert judgment to do so where it makes sense – where it can be done without reducing product quality or transferring risk to some other point in the supply chain.
Because of its measurable success, CFATS has demonstrated a credibility that deserves longer-term reauthorization. SOCMA was pleased this month when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4007 – The CFATS Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014. This is a huge step forward in gaining long-term authorization of the CFATS program and providing the regulatory certainty that regulators and the regulated alike want and need. We thank U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, the author of this bill, and members of the House Homeland Security Committee, all who worked hard to get this bill to the House Floor for a vote. I think I can safely speak for us all when I say that it’s a breath of fresh air to see both political parties in Congress work together on issues that matter to the American people. However, we’re still not over the goal line. The bill now awaits consideration in the Senate. I believe we will hear from a distinguished Congressional panel tomorrow, but if there are any Senate staffers in the room today: the pressure is on to deliver good news! (People laugh, hopefully)
We continue looking forward to working with Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Caitlin Durkovich, and Infrastructure Security Compliance Division Director David Wulf to further implement the CFATS program and improve it where necessary. Without question, significant progress has been made under their leadership over the past several years. Their willingness to work with industry is commendable and will no doubt be needed as we seek to further improve CFATS implementation. Like most things in life, collaboration makes us stronger. A true partnership takes trust and careful attention by both parties. The rewards are unassailably better in the long run for everyone.
In closing, I welcome everyone to this year’s Chemical Sector Security Summit. Over the course of the next two days, be certain to actively engage in these sessions—speak with one another, ask questions, and, above all, leave here tomorrow with a stronger commitment to this public-private partnership. Thank you for your attention this morning and enjoy.