Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 112th Congress [September 29, 2011] [open pdf - 396KB]
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 112th Congress extended this authority through October 4, 2011. The 112th Congress debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continues to consider legislation establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive codification of chemical facility security regulatory provisions. Questions regarding the current law's effectiveness in reducing chemical facility risk and the sufficiency of federal funding for chemical facility security exacerbate the tension between continuing current policies and changing the statutory authority. The DHS is in the process of implementing the authorized regulations, called chemical facility anti-terrorism standards (CFATS). The DHS finalized CFATS regulations in 2007. No chemical facilities have completed the CFATS process, which starts with information submission by chemical facilities and finishes with inspection and approval of facility security measures by DHS. Several factors, including the level of detail provided to DHS and the availability of inspectors, likely complicate the inspection process and lead to delays in inspection. Policymakers have questioned whether the compliance rate with the CFATS is sufficient to address this homeland security issue. Key policy issues debated in previous Congresses contribute to the reauthorization debate. These issues include the adequacy of DHS resources and effort; the appropriateness and scope of federal preemption of state chemical facility security activities; the availability of information for public comment, potential litigation, and congressional oversight; the universe of facilities that are considered as chemical facilities; and the role of inherently safer technologies in achieving security goals."
CRS Report for Congress, R41642