"Federal officials, policy analysts, and homeland security experts express concern about the current state of chemical facility security. Some security experts fear these facilities are at risk of a potentially catastrophic terrorist attack. The Department of Homeland Security identifies chemical facilities as one of the highest priority critical infrastructure sectors. Current chemical plant or chemical facility security efforts include a mixture of local, state, and federal laws, industry trade association requirements, voluntary actions, and federal outreach programs. Many in the public and private sector call for federal legislation to address chemical facility security. Still, disagreement exists over whether legislation is the best approach to securing chemical facilities, and, if legislation is deemed necessary, what approaches best meet the security need. Many questions face policymakers. Is the current voluntary approach sufficient or should security measures be required? If the latter, is chemical facility security regulation a federal role, or should such regulation be developed at the state level? To what extent is additional security required at chemical facilities? Should the government provide financial assistance for chemical facility security or should chemical facilities bear security costs? Critical issues surrounding chemical facility security legislation include determining which chemical facilities should be protected by analyzing and prioritizing chemical facility security risks; identifying which chemical facilities pose the most risk; and establishing what activities could enhance facility security to an acceptable level. Mechanisms for assessing security risk might include weighing the known or theoretical terrorist threat faced by a particular facility, the chemical hazards held at a facility, the quantities and location of those chemicals relative to the surrounding population, or the facility's industrial classification."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33043