NPRA Submits Statement to House on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act; Any New Chemical Security Legislation Should Do No Harm to Current Efforts
In his testimony, Mr. Slaughter emphasized that refiners and petrochemical manufacturers take very seriously their responsibilities to maintain and strengthen security at their facilities. "Our industry has complied with modernized, post- 9/11 federal security requirements. We have undertaken voluntary measures to conduct vulnerability assessments and implement new measures to protect against new threats. We have called upon experts throughout all of industry, government agencies, and the security industry to develop and share best practices to protect our facilities. And perhaps most importantly, the industry has forged an outstanding working relationship with government security agencies to receive the critical information needed to fight terrorism. This important work needs to continue. Any new chemical security authority should enhance and foster these critical activities, rather than discourage them."
“NPRA and its members look forward to working with the Subcommittee and the full Committee as they consider the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. We are always available to discuss our principles or answer and questions on the refining and petrochemical facilities.”
With this strong evidence of commitment to facility security as background, Slaughter went on to outline NPRA's principles for chemical security that he hopes will be adopted as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 is considered:
-- Security legislation should give credit for voluntary industry activities.
-- Security legislation should require that DHS develop a risk-based approach in regulating chemical facility security.
-- Security legislation should provide for federal preemption of state and local chemical security laws and regulations. Refiners and petrochemical manufacturers cannot reasonably be expected to change their plans and operations to meet state or local requirements that are inconsistent with those of the federal regulatory scheme.
-- Security legislation should reject any provisions that indirectly or directly require "Inherently Safer Technologies" (IST). IST is not a security tool; it is a back-door approach to unnecessary environmental controls. In some instances, IST requirements could actually increase security risks.
-- Security legislation should fully recognize existing U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction over facility security under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.
-- Security legislation should give sufficient protection to sensitive security-related information required to be submitted to DHS. Government officials should not release sensitive security-related information to other government agencies whose mission has little to do with security.
-- Security legislation should impose penalties fairly and recognize good-faith efforts to comply. In general, NPRA does not favor criminal penalties for parties required to comply with a sweeping new regulatory mandate in a short period of time. If Congress decides to include criminal penalties in chemical security legislation, those penalties should only be assessed for violations that occur both "intentionally" and "knowingly."
-- Security legislation should include reasonable restrictions on the filing of third party lawsuits. Permission for third party lawsuits, patterned after existing environmental statutes, could impede implementation of security measures due to lengthy and contentious litigation.
-- Security legislation should direct DHS to define criteria for background checks. If background checks of employees and contract employees are required, any new chemical security legislation should direct DHS to define specific criteria for denying workers access to a facility. Companies conducting background checks should also be authorized to access and utilize government resources and databases.
Mr. Slaughter concluded by saying, "NPRA and its members look forward to working with the Subcommittee and the full Committee as they consider the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. We are always available to discuss our principles or answer and questions on the refining and petrochemical facilities."
NPRA is a national trade association whose members include more than 450 companies, including virtually all U.S. refiners and petrochemical producers.