Other Hill News of Interest…

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) has introduced a new CFATS authorization bill.  Titled the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act (HR 4007), the measure speaks to traditional covered chemical facilities as defined under earlier CFATS legislation.  The proposed legislation specifically prohibits that definition from including a public water system, a treatment works, any facility owned or operated by the Departments of Defense or Energy, any facility regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act, and any facility subject to regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The bill was introduced on February 7th and is expected to be referred to the Committee on Homeland Security.

On February 5th, the House Homeland Security Committee passed HR 3696, the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (NCCIP Act).  The bipartisan sponsored legislation now moves to the House Floor for consideration.  Without authorizing any new regulatory authority to DHS, the bill establishes a partnership between industry and DHS to facilitate critical infrastructure protection and incident response.  It codifies the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) cyber elements requires that Cyber Incident Response Teams provide timely technical assistance, crisis management, and actionable recommendations on cyber threats to critical infrastructure owners and operators on a voluntary basis.  It also amends the SAFETY Act to establish a threshold for qualifying cyber incidents so that private entities can voluntarily submit their cybersecurity procedures to gain additional liability protections in the event of a qualifying cyber incident.

Finally, House and Senate Conferees are heading back to the table to iron out remaining differences on the Water Resources Development Act (HR 3080).  After more than a month’s hiatus while the principal negotiators worked on thorny decisions about projects to be authorized, action appears to be gearing up again on the legislation that funds many projects through work by the Corps of Engineers related to dams, levees, and inland waterways.  The measure also provides funding for small flood control, sediment control, and environmental restoration initiatives.  Conferees are also considering language on innovative financing pilot projects – often referred to as WIFIA.  Pilot projects that tackle issues such as flood control or hurricane and storm damage reduction; activities that are eligible for DWSRF or CWSRF loans; energy efficiency; desalination; repair, rehab, or replacement projects; and property acquisition that would mitigate the environmental impacts of an otherwise eligible infrastructure project.  Both the Secretary of Interior and Administrator of EPA are authorized to reserve $50 million each for these pilot projects through FY 18.  Projects would be funded by loans for up to 80% of total project costs except for “…any rural water project that is authorized to be carried out by the Secretary of the Interior and that has an Indian tribe as a beneficiary.”  Conference discussions could resume as early as next week.