chemical plantCongress moved a step closer to making chemical facilities in the U.S. safer with the Senate’s passage yesterday of the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014. The House is expected to take up the legislation soon.

The measure extends -- for four years -- the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Additionally, it establishes a voluntary new expedited approval procedure for site security plans for certain chemical facilities, improves aspects of information sharing with state and local officials and enhance DHS’s ability to identify high-risk chemical facilities that otherwise go unmonitored.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the bipartisan bill ensures that the program within the DHS will help safeguard chemical facilities and the hazardous materials within against the risk of a terrorist attack.

"More important, this legislation provides a longer term authorization, increasing certainty and stability for both the Department of Homeland Security and the chemical industry." Carper said. He urged the House to pass the bill.

 The Senate’s action won the approval of the American Chemistry Council and the American Petroleum Institute (API).

The API said the bill has the strong support of American manufacturers, producers, processors, distributors, transporters, and retailers in agriculture, chemistry, energy, and other businesses that form our nation’s infrastructure.  

“America’s oil and natural gas industry holds safety and security as core values,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “Taking steps to better protect critical infrastructure strengthens our economy and our national security. “