Industry welcomes pending CFATS changes

With the final hours of the 113th Congress upon us, the fate is still not yet sealed on passage of HR 4007, a bill that would provide authorization to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue implementing its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) for four more years.  Few regulatory programs have struggled as much as CFATS, in large part due to obtuse policy decisions by DHS to attempt creation of a “perfect” risk-based security regime.  The result has been an inordinately complex, horribly thought-out, problem-ridden regulatory scheme which misidentifies risk, overly burdens the regulated community, and even bewilders legislators and government review panels alike.

With that background, the International Liquid Terminals Association has worked closely with allies within Washington DC in supporting the development of legislative language that would fix one of the rule’s most glaring problems: the DHS Personnel Surety Program (PSP).  Specifically, since 2009 the Department has attempted to require facilities to submit data to DHS on every individual that it would grant unescorted access so DHS could check the individual for ties to terrorism.  DHS has persisted in its rejection of existing government credentials such as the TWIC or the HazMat Endorsement (HME) on a CDL to demonstrate that the individual is not known to be a terror suspect.  Oddly, this is despite Congressional prohibitions against prescriptive requirements in CFATS.  HR 4007 would solve that problem, enabling employees, contractors and truck drivers alike to use their HME or TWIC to satisfy the terror screening requirement of the program.

Having long been a vocal critic of CFATS, ILTA is in the unfamiliar position of strongly supporting this bill, not because we support the regulation or its implementation but because we support fixing its biggest problems - problems that DHS has demonstrated are too large for it to solve by itself.  As this story goes to press, Revised language to HR 4007 had just passed the United States Senate.  The Senate version returns to the House of Representatives this week for approval before reaching the President’s desk.  So, will new law allow drivers to use their TWIC for terrorism clearance at CFATS facilities?  Magic 8-Ball says, Signs Point to Yes!

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