House Homeland Security Passes Separate CFATS Measure

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee passed HR 901, a bill to reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program for seven years.  Water and wastewater utilities are not included under the legislation nor is there any type of “inherently safer technologies” (IST) requirement.  The justification for the exclusion is that adding water would most likely have slowed down the momentum and “add a jurisdictional hurdle” since other committees have oversight for water issues.  Disallowing IST also keeps the process moving forward and prevents additional burdens from being placed on the industry without clearly identified benefits.  Interestingly, the measure does move CFATS from the general appropriations process to the Homeland Security Act of 2002.  That action also moves the program’s primary jurisdiction to Homeland Security rather than a shared jurisdiction with Energy & Commerce.

Despite the failure of IST and the continued exemptions for water and wastewater, several amendments offered by the Democrats were accepted and included in the measure as passed.  As amended, HR 908 would require DHS to:  report on efforts to align CFATS with other agencies’ security programs; review a facility’s security plan within 180 days of receipt; consider accepting other Federal security program background checks sufficient for CFATS; and provide technical assistance for small business.

It remains to be seen which CFATS legislation, this one or HR 908 (a simple reauthorization) from the House Energy & Commerce Committee will be considered on the House Floor.