Tag Archives: Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards

Greenpeace and allies again attack Koch Industries

Last week saw the release of two reports criticizing Koch Industries for its opposition to heavy-handed regulation of the chemical industry. Greenpeace released a report with highly charged words in its title: “Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at Risk of a Poison Gas Disaster.” Other articles commenting on this were highly sensational, such as this example: “Do the Koch Brothers Want a Toxic Disaster?”

Koch Industries has responded to these articles in a response on KochFacts.com website. Among many facts, we can see that Koch companies have received 386 safety awards and 28 environmental awards just since President Obama took office.

Much of the Greenpeace report criticized Koch for its opposition to H.R. 2868, the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009. Koch and most of the chemical industry instead favored continuation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, a set of less intrusive standards that have been effective.

Greenpeace characterizes the regulatory measures in H.R. 2868 as so mild that it can’t imagine why anyone would object. At issue is a concept known as “Inherently Safer Technology” or IST. If passed into law or regulation, regulators could require manufacturers to substitute alternative processes, in the name of safety. That, however, poses many problems, as explained below.

The Greenpeace report contains an economic analysis of what H.R. 2868 might do to the economy. This bill passed the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. The report estimates that the cost of IST would be slightly less than $1 billion per year. The analysis concludes that the extra costs of IST regulation would eliminate jobs, but the extra spending on IST would add roughly the same number of jobs. The net impact is therefore zero.

But we shouldn’t infer that a net loss of zero jobs means no economic harm is done. There will be dislocation, as the people who gain jobs won’t likely be the people who lost jobs.

But most importantly, this extra cost is spent paying for something that isn’t a problem. The Greenpeace report concedes there have been no attacks on U.S. chemical plants since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The reports says various terrorists would like to conduct such attacks. That’s hardly news. What is news is that, for whatever reason, they haven’t succeeded.

It’s true that the words “Inherently Safer Technology” don’t appear in H.R. 2868. But in an explanatory document produced by Greenpeace, we see the bill isn’t as mild as Greenpeace claims: “If a facility disagrees with the DHS’s finding they have 120 days to appeal and the DHS must consult with a wide range of experts and those expert recommendations must be included in any order to implement safer chemical processes.” (emphasis added)

That sounds like heavy-handed regulation and the implementation of IST. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on Greenpeace’s part. At any rate, once initiated these regulatory regimes have a way of growing, often far exceeding the intent of Congress when it passed the legislation creating the initial regulation.

But that’s the goal of the political left: Regulation. And if they can accomplish this goal while at the same time beating up on Koch Industries, the chemical industry, the oil industry, and capitalism in general, so much the better for them. Underlying the quest of Greenpeace and its allies is a hatred of capitalism, hated so much that they will do whatever it takes to discredit and defeat its proponents and practitioners.

The problems with Inherently Safer Technology regulation

A document titled Final Report: Definition for Inherently Safer Technology in Production, Transportation, Storage, and Use supplies some useful information about IST:

IST’s are relative: A technology can only be described as inherently safer when compared to a different technology, including a description of the hazard or set of hazards being considered, their location, and the potentially affected population. A technology may be inherently safer than another with respect to some hazards while being inherently less safe with respect to others, and may not be safe enough to meet societal expectations.

IST’s are based on an informed decision process: Because an option may be inherently safer with regard to some hazards and inherently less safe with regard to others, decisions about the optimum strategy for managing risks from all hazards are required. The decision process must consider the entire life cycle, the full spectrum of hazards and risks, and the potential for transfer of risk from one impacted population to another.

This hints at the difficulty in regulating complex processes such as manufacturing. There may be many tradeoffs to make. An an example, a process might use a toxic catalyst. It would seem that eliminating its use would lead to greater safety.

But: the tradeoff. Eliminating the use of the catalyst would mean the company has to increase the temperature and pressure of the process, two factors that increase risk. The end result might be a process with more risk than the original process.

At a committee hearing in 2009, Senator Susan M. Collins gave another example of how IST might force more hazardous trucks on highways:

According to one water utility located in an isolated area of the Northwest, if Congress were to force it to replace its use of gaseous chlorine with sodium hypochlorite, then the utility would have to use as much as seven times the current quantity of treatment chemicals to achieve comparable water quality results. In turn, the utility would have to arrange for many more bulk chemical deliveries, by trucks, into the watershed. The greater quantities of chemicals and increased frequency of truck deliveries would heighten the risk of an accident resulting in a chemical spill into the watershed. In fact, the accidental release of sodium hypochlorite into the watershed would likely cause greater harm to soils, vegetation and streams than a gaseous chlorine release in this remote area.

In its discussion on IST, the “Final Report: Definition for Inherently Safer Technology in Production, Transportation, Storage, and Use” report notes the tradeoffs that are commonplace:

IST options can be location and release scenario dependent, and different potentially exposed populations may not agree on the relative inherent safety characteristics of the same set of options. For example, two options for handling a toxic gas might be receiving the material in ten, 1-ton cylinders or one, 10-ton truckloads. To a population several miles from the site, the 1-ton cylinders would be inherently safer because the maximum potential release size is smaller and less likely to expose them to a hazardous concentration of the gas. However, operators, who would now have to connect and disconnect 10 cylinders for every 10 tons of material used, instead of a single truck, would consider the truck shipments to be inherently safer. Thus, evaluation of IST options can be quite complex, and dependent on the local environment. There is currently no consensus on either a quantification method for IST or a scientific assessment method for evaluation of IST options.

We need to consider also who is in the best position to judge the relative risks: government bureaucrats, or the operators of the plant. The view of government regulators is that any risk is bad, and through technology — IST in this example — we can eliminate risk.

But this ignores the tradeoffs involved, as illustrated above. It also ignore the costs of these regulations in their attempt to lessen risk, notwithstanding the economic analysis commissioned by Greenpeace.

A common response we see in the media — certainly we see it from the political left and attack groups like Greenpeace as well as government regulators — is that greedy plant owners will use whichever method is cheapest, so as to produce the greatest profit.

This ignores the fact that there are laws and regulations already in place. It ignores the fact that market forces give plant operators a huge incentive to operate safely, for their own safety, the safety of the employees they can’t operate without, and the safety of the surrounding communities. Besides the potential loss of human life, unsafe plants expose their operators to huge economic costs. Besides being liable for damage and loss of life due to accidents, unsafe workplaces have to pay employees more to work there. Insurers charge higher rates for unsafe plants they believe present a high risk of having to pay claims.

Chemical security legislation update

The United States Congress is considering legislation to improve the safety of chemical plants. While a noble goal, this regulation has the potential to actually decrease chemical plant safety while increasing costs and destroying jobs at the same time.

Currently the proposed legislation is in a senate committee. The following summary of chemical security legislation reports that Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, may introduce a new bill on this topic.

Debate over Chemical Plant Security Moves to the Senate

By Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., April 21, 2010

Following the House’s passage of a chemical plant security bill last November, the Senate has begun to turn its attention to the issue, with subcommittee hearings held in March and multiple bills either proposed or in the works. As in the House, the focus of contention thus far in the Senate has been the possible addition of inherently safer technology (“IST”) requirements into a reauthorization of the existing Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (“CFATS”) program.

Background

The security of chemical facilities has been a subject of increased concern since the September 11, 2001 attacks, when it became apparent that stores of hazardous chemicals are a logical target for terrorists. Members of Congress have agreed on the need for a federal chemical facility security program, but have disagreed sharply on the issue of making IST mandatory. IST refers to technological and procedural steps intended to reduce the potential for a hazardous chemical release, in contrast to security measures intended to deter sabotage of existing processes. IST measures typically involve modifying processes to reduce the quantity of hazardous chemicals used or stored, reducing temperatures or pressures, or replacing a hazardous chemical with a less hazardous one. While facilities are always free to reduce hazards in these ways, a mandatory IST approach would require facilities to examine their industrial processes to evaluate safer alternatives and would enable a government agency to compel facilities to adopt the changes that it concludes are justified.

Click to continue reading at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

Chemical safety bill testimony heard

This week the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard testimony on S.2996, titled “Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2010.” This bill would extend the effective date of current chemical security regulations until 2015.

In the House of Representatives, a bill has passed that contains provisions for Inherently Safer Technology (IST). The Senate bill does not contain these provisions.

IST regulations seek to force companies to replace existing methods and raw materials with those deemed to be safer. But the legislation may not produce its intended effect. Stephen Poorman of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates stated in his written testimony: “Inherent safety is a superficially simple but truthfully very complex concept, and one that is inherently unsuited to regulation. Any IST mandate is bound to create situations that will actually increase or transfer overall risks.”

His testimony gave three examples of where a change to a process mandated by IST would actually increase the overall risk. For example, a process might use a toxic catalyst. Eliminating the use of the catalyst would mean the company has to increase the temperature and pressure of the process, two factors that work to increase risk. The end result might be a process with more risk than the original process.

In her opening remarks, Senator Susan M. Collins gave another example of how IST might force more hazardous trucks on highways:

According to one water utility located in an isolated area of the Northwest, if Congress were to force it to replace its use of gaseous chlorine with sodium hypochlorite, then the utility would have to use as much as seven times the current quantity of treatment chemicals to achieve comparable water quality results. In turn, the utility would have to arrange for many more bulk chemical deliveries, by trucks, into the watershed. The greater quantities of chemicals and increased frequency of truck deliveries would heighten the risk of an accident resulting in a chemical spill into the watershed. In fact, the accidental release of sodium hypochlorite into the watershed would likely cause greater harm to soils, vegetation and streams than a gaseous chlorine release in this remote area.

IST regulations and mandates would also be very expensive, forcing manufacturers and even local water utilities to increase their prices, all for something that may not reduce risk. Furthermore, as Sen. Collins remarked, “The increased cost of a mandatory IST program may force chemical companies to simply transfer their operations overseas, costing American workers thousands of jobs.”

Testimony is available on the committee’s hearing page. More information on this topic is available on this site at Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards.

Citizen lawsuits won’t enhance chemical safety

Legislation currently under consideration in Congress will allow citizens to sue the Department of Homeland Security if they believe that chemical plants are not in compliance with new regulations.

The new regulations — IST, or Inherently Safer Technology — are troubling enough, in that they may actually work against their stated goal of safety. Allowing citizens to bring lawsuits based on these regulations will create many problems.

In a Washington Times piece, two Washington lawmakers explain the risks and dangers that this law will bring about:

  • “… civil lawsuits would necessitate DHS diverting its limited resources from its core mission — protecting American lives from terrorists.”
  • “… civil lawsuits, and the discovery process involved, could very well lead to the public disclosure of sensitive — even classified — security information about U.S. chemical facilities and DHS’ assessments of those facilities.”
  • “To allow civil lawsuits against DHS in this area has the real potential to make the American people less safe. DHS itself has warned Congress of the potential consequences.”

The Endangered Species Act contains provisions that allow for citizen lawsuits. The result? The authors write: “As a result, biologists then divert their attention away from protecting species to responding to the lawsuit and reacting to any judicial decisions. In 2002, this brought the Fish and Wildlife Service to a standstill.”

Let’s not saddle the Department of Homeland Security with the same burden.

Chemical plant security should be based on technology, not politics

As Congress considers legislation that would force our nation’s chemical plants to make expensive changes in their processes and technologies, we need to make sure that we don’t cripple our economy just to appease a small group of environmental activists — all in the name of purportedly greater safety.

That’s the danger we face from IST, or Inherently Safer Technology. What could be wrong with a law that contains such a noble goal as safety? It has to do with the complexity of a modern industrial economy providing the backdrop on which unintended consequences develop. A recent article in The Hill explains:

IST is governed by the laws of physics and engineering, not the laws of politics and emotion. A reduction in hazard will result in a reduction in risk if, and only if, that hazard is not displaced or replaced by another hazard. Even if it were possible to simply switch from one chemical to another, switching often results in the mere transfer of risk from the chemical plant to some other entity, perhaps the surrounding community, with no actual risk-reduction registered. For example, a government mandate that forces a company to reduce the amount of a particular chemical at a facility could very well result in an increase in transportation and safety risk. The company still has to maintain the same level of production capacity and the only way to maintain current capacity is to increase the number of shipments — through the community — going into the chemical plant.

The article also states that there’s no objective way to measure the notion of “inherently safer.” But there is an objective way to measure the costs that IST will impose on manufacturers and our economy. It’s a huge cost, both in terms of dollars and lost jobs. Even the Wichita water treatment plant is on a list of facilities targeted by environmental extremists as dangerous.

Chemical manufacturers, says the author, aren’t opposed to safety. In fact, the industry places great emphasis on safety and has spent billions on plant security since 9/11.

Chemical security bill passes committee

On Tuesday, the United States House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee passed H.R. 2868, the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009.”

This bill contains provisions for Inherently Safer Technology (IST). These regulations seek to force companies to replace existing methods and raw materials with those deemed to be safer. But the legislation may not produce its intended effect. Congressional testimony found that this could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect.

The problem, as with much government regulation, lies in the unintended consequences. The article Inherently Safer Technology (IST) not always that explains how these regulations can work to increase the real danger that Americans might face. In this example, a switch to a different input chemical would mean many more chemical tanker trucks would be on our nation’s highways.

Chemical manufacturing and processing is a complicated matter, and mandates that force the use of one chemical instead of another can have consequences that lead to less safety, not more.

In a letter to Henry Waxman and Joe Barton, Chair and Ranking Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, told how “The bill’s IST provisions may result in simply transferring risk to other points along the supply chain instead of reducing risks as intended.”

He also said that these mandates will increase cost: “Not only will IST mandates fail to reduce risk, but they will also impose significant financial hardship on refiners and petrochemical producers struggling in the current economic recession. In addition to the fact that mandated switches may not reduce risk, some estimates indicate that forced changes could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars per facility.”

There are existing regulations that have been effect for some time, and have proven to work. As one industry group wrote earlier this year: “The current chemical security regulations are enforced by the Department of Homeland Security, which has clear authority to inspect facilities and apply strong penalties for non-compliance. Since the regulations have been in place, not one incident as a result of terrorism has occurred. These regulations have been effective.”

We have working regulations in place. So why are we contemplating more burdensome regulations that will surely increase cost, while at the same time increasing the risks Americans face?

Good news on chemical security

There’s been some good news from Congress recently about Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS. The National Association of Manufacturers reports:

The Senate last week passed H.R. 2892, the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill, which included a one-year extension of department’s authority over security for chemical facilities potentially threatened by terrorist attacks. This one-year extension helps continue the progress that the agency and chemical industry have made in implementing safety and security regulations adopted in 2007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. (CFATS).

The House has also passed a one-year extension, and the approach is far superior to the permanent legislation passed by the House Homeland Security Committee, H.R. 2868, the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act. That seemingly well-intentioned piece of legislation would U.S. production and storage of chemicals more burdensome and costly while providing no benefit public safety or national security.

Bill Allmond, vice president of government relations at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), put it well: “As we have argued for the past several months, Congress needs to address the October 2009 CFATS deadline expeditiously. Because the House appears, so far, to be more interested in passing controversial amendments like inherently safer technology (IST) to the existing regulations rather than make the rules permanent, this extension is the most responsible action.”

Link to original story: Chemical Security: Keeping A Good Start Going. More reporting on this issue may be read by clicking on Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards.

Inherently Safer Technology (IST) not always that

Currently Congress is considering new regulations for chemical plants — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards or CFATS — that will, if enacted, require substitution of technologies believed to be less vulnerable to terrorist attack.

These regulations would affect facilities in addition to those we usually picture when thinking of chemical plants. The Wichita water treatment plant, for example, could be affected.

The problem is that chemical manufacturing and processing is a complicated matter, and mandates that force the use of one chemical instead of another can have consequences that lead to less safety.

An example of this may be found in the study Petroleum Refiners & Inherently Safer Technology: The Realities of Hydrofluoric and Sulfuric Acid. (I recommend reading the executive summary.) It’s from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, a national trade association.

Proponents of IST would like oil refineries to switch to sulfuric acid as a safer alternative to hydrofluoric acid. This sounds like a reasonable measure, until you dig a little deeper. Then, you’ll find this:

The alkylation process takes roughly 250 times more sulfuric acid than hydrofluoric acid to achieve the same result; therefore, a forced switch to sulfuric acid would result in a significant increase in transportation and transfer of the substance. For a 10,000 barrel per day alkylation unit, this equates to one to two truckloads of hydrofluoric acid delivered to the refinery each month, compared to three to four truckloads of regenerated sulfuric acid coming in and three to four truckloads of spent sulfuric acid going out each day.

This is an example of how seemingly small shifts in technology can have a big impact. In this case, many more trucks carrying a still-dangerous acid would be on our roads and highways.

There’s also a cost consideration: “A mandate for a refinery to switch from hydrofluoric acid to sulfuric acid will result in capital and design costs between $45 and $150 million dollars per refinery and an increase in operating costs of between 200 and 400 percent.”

As all refineries would face these costs, it’s very likely that these costs would be passed on to consumers. Except: foreign refiners would not be subject to these expensive technology requirements. This raises the possibility of the United States importing gasoline in large quantities — an unintended consequence that I don’t believe Congress intends.

Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture

At the Kansas Meadowlark, there’s some video about Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards.

The video is from recent Congressional hearings, and is valuable for its explanation of Inherently Safer Technologies, or IST. Click on Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture for the video and commentary.

Articles of interest

Chemical security, national health care, global warming cost, school order.

Extending security standards better decision

A letter in the Montgomery Advertiser makes the case for extending the present Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards. Legislation is under consideration that would give government the ability to regulate processes and technologies.

“Although we believe CFATS should be reauthorized and made permanent, we do not support current draft legislation that replaces CFATS and extends the power of the DHS to dictate how a product is made. Decisions pertaining to feedstocks, processes and products should be left to the engineers and safety experts at local facilities.”

The Stealth Single-Payer Agenda

George F. Will’s column explains that while President Obama and Congress are presently considering a “public option” health care plan, this is just the first step on the road to a single-payer plan. “The puzzle is: Why does the president, who says that were America ‘starting from scratch’ he would favor a ‘single-payer’ — government-run — system, insist that health-care reform include a government insurance plan that competes with private insurers? The simplest answer is that such a plan will lead to a single-payer system.”

The Big Chill
Congress shouldn’t fight global warming by freezing the economy.

In a Wall Street Journal column, Pete Du Pont explains the enormous cost of the Waxman-Markey global warming bill and how little warming it would stop. “Manzi estimates the additional economic costs of the bill would be 0.8% of gross domestic product, while the economic benefits would be just 0.08% — so the costs would be 10 times the benefits. The cost of reducing emissions turns out to be greater than the cost they impose on societies. According to a 1999 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimate, the emissions cuts the Kyoto Protocol would have required in 2010 were likely to reduce America’s GDP by $275 billion to $468 billion, or $921 to $1,565 per person, and of course Kyoto does not apply to fast-growing developing countries such as China and India.”

Taking back control of the classrooms

“The dirty little secret of America’s schools is that teachers have lost control of the classroom. Disrespect is commonplace. Disorder is an epidemic — 43 percent of high school teachers say they spend more than half their time maintaining order instead of teaching, according to a Public Agenda survey. Learning is impossible in these conditions. One misbehaving student steals the floor, spoiling the learning opportunity for the other 29 students. ‘You know, it really doesn’t take very many kids to ruin a classroom,’ observed David Adams, superintendent of Shelbyville Central Schools.”

Phillip K. Howard explains that the problem is too much law: “There is a broad perception — by teachers and students alike — that teachers lack the legal authority to enforce respect and order.”

In the world of chemical security, the real world

A post on a blog sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers explains a few of the problems with the proposed Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards legislation now making its way through Congress.

One of the issues mentioned in the post In the World of Chemical Security, the Real World is the threat of excessive litigation:

“But there are problems with the proposals, as he makes clear. He cites the ‘private right of action,’ i.e., encouraging litigation against companies as a parallel regulatory process.”

Unlike environmental statutes, CFATS is not a series of prescriptive statutory measures with which compliance is mandatory, like emission standards or discharge limitations, and therefore it is much more difficult for an outsider — whether it be a citizen or judge — to ascertain if a standard is being met or to decide what needs to be done to address an alleged deficiency.

Congress could give government bureaucrats more control of farms and industry

The Kansas Meadowlark blog has a detailed post that explains some of the harm to agriculture that proposed legislation — chemical facility anti-terrorism standards — could cause.

The post also contains a section of helpful related links. Click on Congress could give government bureaucrats more control of farms and industry to read.

Current chemical security regulations should be reauthorized

Currently two committees in the United States House of Representatives are considering legislation that would harm a vital American industry.

This industry is already regulated, and the regulations have accomplished their goal. As explained by the Texas Chemical Council:

The current chemical security regulations are enforced by the Department of Homeland Security, which has clear authority to inspect facilities and apply strong penalties for non-compliance. Since the regulations have been in place, not one incident as a result of terrorism has occurred. These regulations have been effective. Removing the sunset date and making the chemical security regulations permanent would provide the certainty needed to both protect citizens and support our nation’s economic recovery.

The bill, H.R. 2868, is known as Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards. More information from the Texas Chemical Council is below.

(This is a Scribd document. Click on the rectangle at the right of the document’s title bar to get a full-screen view.)

Current chemical security regulations should be reauthorized By Hector Rivero, President & CEO, Texas Chemical Council Americans should take note of the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Act being debated in Congress. At a time when millions have already lost their jobs, the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Act (HR 2868) would force more people out of work by imposing needless and harmful regulations on American industry. It would also raise prices for many everyday products, including food, water, pharmaceutical drugs, fertilizers and energy. Securing chemical facilities against deliberate attack is crucial to protecting Americans. The fact is that since 2006, clear and comprehensive chemical security regulations have been in place. Those regulations secure everything from chemical facilities to warehouses and university labs. The rules require facilities to address a wide range of threats, from preventing a bomb-laden car from reaching a target to preventing theft or diversion of materials from a site. The current chemical security regulations are enforced by the Department of Homeland Security, which has clear authority to inspect facilities and apply strong penalties for noncompliance. Since the regulations have been in place, not one incident as a result of terrorism has occurred. These regulations have been effective. Removing the sunset date and making the chemical security regulations permanent would provide the certainty needed to both protect citizens and support our nation’s economic recovery. Proposed legislation poses threats Legislation being proposed by Congress should concern us all. It would create overlapping and conflicting security requirements that will cause disruptions of federal security standards, increase government red tape, and create more economic instability. The proposed regulations also go beyond security protections by placing mandates on American manufacturers as to which products and process they use. These mandates will be imposed without any regard for practicality, availability or cost. If current provisions of the proposed bill are implemented, unemployment will shoot even higher and consumers may see prices for everyday consumer products skyrocket. The chemical industry understands the importance of operating safe and secure manufacturing facilities. However, this can be accomplished without compromising our economic security.

Chemical security act would harm business, farmers

The Kansas Meadowlark contributes coverage about a chemical security law that promises to overburden an important American industry. Even the family farm is at risk. That’s the operative word — risk. As has been reported, Congressional testimony found that the legislation could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect.

An important point of this article is the involvement of the left-wing Center for American Progress.

Coverage of this issue on this blog is available by clicking on Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards.

To read the coverage at the Kansas Meadowlark, click on Do we want Homeland Security telling businesses how to run their businesses? Telling farmers how to farm?

Chemical security act could affect Wichita water rates

The United States Congress is considering legislation that aims to increase the security of America’s chemical industry to terrorism threats. The legislation, if passed, would require chemical companies to substitute government-mandated processes and technology for their current processes. The post Chemical security law goes beyond protection explains more about this legislation.

Even places that we might not consider to be “chemical plants” could fall under this act.

The Center for American Progress — described by Wikipedia as “a liberal political policy research and advocacy organization,” an understatement if there ever was one — has produced a report titled Chemical Security 101: What You Don’t Have Can’t Leak, or Be Blown Up by Terrorists.

The Wichita Water Treatment Plant appears on their list of 202 additional facilities that should be required to change their processes, according to the report. The Wichita plant appears because it uses chlorine to treat drinking water, and, apparently, because it’s located in a large city.

I asked David Warren, Director of Utilities for the City of Wichita, about the proposed legislation and about the Wichita Water Treatment Plant being on a list of dangerous facilities.

While declining — understandably so — to discuss specifics of security at the Wichita plant, he said that if the legislation passes and is found to apply to Wichita’s plant, “it would require expensive changes in our treatment process.”

He also said that the reason for the Wichita plant’s inclusion on the list is due to its location (near the center of Wichita) rather than to any defect in security precautions.

It would be one thing if these changes were necessary and would contribute to national security. But Congressional testimony found that the legislation could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect.

Wichita water rates are already on the rise as the city undertakes capital improvement projects. It’s unknown how much bills might increase if the water plant was forced to make changes to its treatment technology.

But even slight increase can cause hardship. Last year Wichita city council member Lavonta Williams expressed concern that a $1 per month increase in water bills would be a hardship. And in her campaign last year, she stated “We need to start the conversation with service providers about whether we can offer laid-off workers reduced rates for water, heat and other essential services.”

Let representatives know about Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act

As reported in this website, Congress is considering legislation that threatens to harm the American economy, while at the same time accomplishing little or none of its stated goals.

Articles like Chemical Facility Security Authorization Act threatens American economy give more detail.

It’s important to let your elected representatives in Washington know how harmful this proposed law will be to a vital American industry.

An easy way to let them know is by clicking on this link: Ask Your Legislator to Oppose the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act. This will take you to a form where you fill in your name and address. The site will determine who are your representatives and show you the letter it has created. Then, you can choose to have the site send it for you, or you can print it and mail it yourself.

Either way, it’s important to act.

Chemical facilities act would increase cost, not safety

Update: Let your elected representatives in Washington know about this legislation. Send them a message by clicking here.

As reported earlier, the United States Congress is considering legislation — the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards — that will increase regulation on chemical plants and facilities. Even the Wichita Water Works is on a list of facilities that would possibly be required to undergo expensive modifications if this new law passes. (See Chemical security law goes beyond protection)

The proposed legislation, however, would extend government control into another of our nation’s most important industries. It would require companies to change their manufacturing processes and substitute products in the name of safety.

But the legislation may not produce its intended effect. Congressional testimony found that this could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect.

Here’s a letter from a Texas industry group that explains the problems with the proposed legislation.

(This is a Scribd document. Click on the rectangle at the right of the document’s title bar to get a full-screen view.)

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Facility Standards Letter From Texas Chemical Council

Chemical Facility Security Authorization Act threatens American economy

Update: Let your elected representatives in Washington know about this legislation. Send them a message by clicking here.

Earlier this week I reported on legislation being considered by Congress that would, under the lofty goal of national security, impose a huge burden on the American chemical industry. (Chemical security law goes beyond protection)

Our agricultural industries need to be concerned, too. The article Homeland Security To Regulate Farm and Ranch Inputs? details some of the harm that excessive government interference will cause.

For example, the legislation “proposes to mandate the government to take a large measure of control over products and processes in the chemical industry, much like it has taken over leadership, compensation and control functions at some banks, insurance and auto companies. … A government bureaucracy would be given power to mandate product substitutions, formulation changes and changes in processes … But interference with product formulation and the complicated processes worked out scientifically over years of research and experience is not the proper purview of government security regulators or environmental activists. It is a separate issue from security and terrorism. Such interference is more likely to create new manufacturing and worker safety hazards.”

This article gives us a hint at what may be the real motivation behind this legislation: “Interestingly, it is environmental activist groups, many of whom oppose mainstream agriculture’s use of any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fossil fuels to produce America’s robust food supply, who are pushing this legislative reach to mandate private industry’s products and processes.”

Wrapping an extremist environmental agenda in the trappings of national security may be an effective scare tactic, but it’s not a good way to formulate national policy.

Chemical security law goes beyond protection

Congress is about to consider legislation that, on the surface, seems like it implements an important goal. Its name — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards — suggests something that no one could oppose.

The proposed legislation, however, would extend government control into another of our nation’s most important industries. It would require companies to change their manufacturing processes and substitute products in the name of safety. But the legislation may not produce its intended effect. As the letter below states: “Congressional testimony found that this could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect.”

If you need to know just how bad this bill is, consider that the Center for American Progress, founded by Herbert M. Sandler and Marion O. Sandler, is squarely behind it.

Radical environmentalists seek to destroy American industry any way they can. Using an unimpeachable issue — our national security and anti-terrorism — to advance their goals is just another of their tools.

Following is a letter from a coalition of industry groups that explains some of the issues surrounding this legislation.

Dear Member of Congress,

We represent American businesses and local city services that provide millions of jobs and our national infrastructure. Protecting our communities and complying with federal security standards is a top priority for us.

We support straightforward legislation to reauthorize the DHS chemical facility security standards enacted by Congress in 2006. We also support Congress enacting into statute the regulatory framework that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) carefully established and is now enforcing, known as the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards.” Removing the sunset date and making the chemical security regulations permanent would provide the certainty needed to both protect our citizens and enable our economic recovery.

However, we strongly urge you to oppose disrupting this security program by adding provisions that would mandate government-favored substitutions, weaken protection of sensitive information, impose stifling penalties for administrative errors, create conflicts with other security standards or move away from a performance (or risk-based) approach.

For example, last year’s “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act” could have caused disruptions of new federal security standards and reduced jobs in the short term, and in the long term weakened infrastructure protection and economic stability.

Our top concern is that legislation could go beyond security protections by creating a mandate to substitute products and processes with a government-selected technology. Congressional testimony found that this could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect. Such a standard is not measurable and would likely lead to confusion, loss of viable products, prohibitive legal liability, and business failures.

We ask that you ensure that any security legislation avoid overlap and conflict with existing federal security requirements, such as the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Maritime Transportation Security Act.” Any proposal must also protect from release any sensitive security information on site vulnerability.

Companies in thousands of communities are complying with the landmark new DHS chemical security standards while continuing to provide essential products and services for our daily lives. We believe that counter-productive adjustments to the current law would undermine security and endanger businesses in communities all around the country. Thank you for your consideration of our views.

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