The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee approved on May 4 legislation that would extend the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) current chemical facility antiterrorism standards program through fiscal year 2017. The legislation (H.R. 908), was sponsored by Reps. Timothy Murphy (R-Pa.) and Gene Green (D-Texas). Authorization for the DHS Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards (CFATS) program expired in October 2010 but has been extended under continuing budget resolutions and then included in the fiscal year 2011 spending bill (H.R. 1473), which continued CFATS through October 4, 2011. The CFATS program requires all high-risk chemical facilities to complete security vulnerability assessments, develop site security plans, and implement protective measures to meet DHS-defined, risk-based performance standards. Interim chemical facility antiterrorism standards were issued in June 2007 following enactment of legislation in 2006.
Publicly owned wastewater and drinking water treatment works and community water systems are exempt from the CFATS provisions, although many of them use large quantities of chemicals. Chemical security legislation passed by the full House in November 2009 included coverage for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and would have required high-risk facilities to use safer chemicals or processes when feasible. The “inherently safer technology” provision was not included in either H.R. 908 or H.R. 901, both of which essentially continue the current CFATS program without change.