House Homeland Security Committee Passes Chemical Security Legislation

We applaud Chairman Thompson and the Committee for taking action to protect our communities from dangerous chemical plants. As the Congressional Research Service report released today shows, one hundred facilities endanger more than a million people in the event of an accident or attack; more than 7000 facilities endanger thousands.

Safer and cost-effective alternatives are already in use for many of the most dangerous chemicals. We should not tolerate unnecessary risk to millions of Americans when we know that we can do better.

The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2008 begins to address the deficiencies in chemical plant safety and security, and should continue to improve in today’s markup in the Homeland Security Committee.

We strongly support the bill’s requirement that facilities use safer technologies, such as the use of safer chemicals, to reduce the consequence of a chemical release. Requiring companies to use safer chemicals, particularly when safer and cost-effective technologies are available, is the common-sense way to make chemical plants safer and more secure. We applaud the Committee for rejecting amendments that would have weakened this critical provision.

We look forward to working with the Committee to pass legislation that replaces dangerous chemical operations with feasible safer technologies, integrates employee participation in safety and security initiatives, and protects the ability of state and local governments to implement more stringent health, safety and security requirements.