SOCMA Calls on Congress to Demonstrate Lasting Commitment to Chemical Security
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2011
Senior Manager, Public Relations & Media
Washington, DC – With the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaching, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) today calls on lawmakers to pass a long-term extension of the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) this month.
“Ten years after the 9/11 attacks and five years after Congress enacted a chemical security regulatory program, some 5,000 chemical facilities across the country are still waiting on Washington to re-authorize the program on a long-term basis,” said SOCMA President and CEO Lawrence D. Sloan.
In 2006, Congress enacted a strong chemical security regulatory program known as CFATS. The current standards require that facilities using or storing chemicals be subjected to a rigorous and thorough security evaluation, planning and implementation process. This process includes onsite inspections by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and stiff penalties for non-compliance, including shutting down a facility. The program has been touted by both regulatory officials and industry stakeholders as an excellent example of collaborative and pragmatic cooperation between the private and public sectors.
“However, without Congressional action this year, these standards may not continue, thereby creating uncertainty among companies and communities alike,” Sloan said. “This regulation has become an unlikely pawn in a political chess match in Washington and now risks falling victim to the legislative calendar. Despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike support extending CFATS, a vocal minority has successfully injected their agenda into the debate, thereby jeopardizing longer-term implementation. The Obama administration has repeatedly supported the standards’ continuation but only on a year-to-year basis. This is problematic because companies need more certainty that the investments they are making today will satisfy regulatory standards tomorrow,” he said. “This is no way to run an important government program affecting thousands of facilities and the communities in which they serve.”
The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates has been working with regulated facilities across the nation that are now deep in the middle of implementing CFATS in a focused, cooperative manner. “As part of these efforts, we are supporting legislation, introduced in the House and Senate respectively, which would ensure these standards remain in place for at least the next three years,” Sloan said. “Short-term extensions are not the answer and should not be the fallback plan. This sends the message that the government is not fully committed to security.”
Sloan said that like our country’s bipartisan response to 9/11, Republicans and Democrats alike must work together to ensure the continuation of this program and the security of our nation’s critical infrastructure. “As we prepare to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of those tragic events, we call on the House and Senate leadership to schedule a vote to ensure reauthorization is approved by September 23, before Congress heads into its fall recess and statutory authority for CFATS expires again in early October,” Sloan said.
SOCMA is the only U.S. based trade association dedicated solely to the batch, custom and specialty chemical industry. Since 1921, we have represented a diverse membership of small, medium and large chemical companies, making us the leading authority on this sector. SOCMA has a global membership of more than 200 companies. For more information on our services and products, please visit www.socma.com.
ChemStewards® is SOCMA’s flagship environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) continuous performance improvement program. ChemStewards was created from industry’s commitment to reducing our environmental footprint. Industry created ChemStewards to meet the unique needs of the batch, custom, and specialty chemical industry. As a mandatory requirement for SOCMA members engaged in the manufacturing or handling of chemicals, ChemStewards is helping participants reach for superior EHS&S performance. To learn more visit www.chemstewards.com.