According to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, Sens. Collins and Lieberman will be introducing chemical security legislation on Monday:
Sen. Susan Collins outlined legislation Friday to create national standards for securing chemical plants, saying the threat is too big for voluntary industry efforts and a patchwork of state laws. Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said witnesses at a series of hearings this year warned that terrorists could use chemical manufacturing and storage plants as weapons.
The details on the legislation in the article:
The legislation calls on the Department of Homeland Security to determine threats, such as truck bombs or armed intruders, to specific locations. Facilities would be ranked in tiers, with those at greatest risk developing the strictest protections.
Facilities would assess their vulnerability, develop a security plan and create an emergency response plan.
“The idea is that we set the performance standards, but we don’t tell companies precisely how to reach them,” Collins said.
If the department determines a facility hasn’t addressed the threat or consequence of an attack, it could order the facility closed. The department could also jail a company owner or operator for two years and impose a fine of $50,000 per day for failing to comply with a security plan.
One point of debate in the legislation has been the role states would play in setting standards. The bill would allow states to draft tougher standards, but not weaker than the federal rules.
We’ve been very, very lucky as a nation that this vulnerability has not been exploited by terrorists in the last four years. Hopefully this congressional effort will be more successful than previous ones. Its chances are by no means guaranteed. It could be referred to committees that would try to weaken it or stall its passage. And it could be held up by the leadership of the House or Senate. But there has been a growing (and bipartisan) momentum on the need to address this issue in the last year, which increases the chance of passage of a solid bill this time.
It’s time to close this gap.
Update: US News reports on this…with an eerily familiar headline…