From the transcript of today’s HSGAC hearing with Sec. Chertoff on the FY 2007 budget request:
Chemical security: As I think we’ve said previously, and I’ll reiterate again, we support the idea of a chemical bill that in an intelligent and a risk-based way will give us the authority necessary to make sure that we bring chemical companies up to standard. That’s a tiered approach looking at the nature of the risk.
It would put a burden, obviously, on the industry to come up to the standard. Much of the industry, I think, wants to do that, but I recognize some do not, and I think that the industry, at this point, would welcome a sensible regulatory regime. We’ve been working with the committee on this.
I would very much like to see a chemical security bill passed this year. I think it’s overdue. It will require us to be sensible, to recognize that not everybody’s going to be happy with every element of the bill. But if we pitch it right, we will actually produce positive results, which I think will make the American people not only have more faith in us as government actors but more confidence in their own safety.
DHS discussed their interest in chemical security regulations in 2005, and the FY 2007 budget request for $10m for a chemical security office has been interpreted as reflecting a willingness to accept new legislation. But this statement is the most direct that I’ve seen from Sec. Chertoff on the desire to pass a chemical security bill. Hopefully this is something that can be fast-tracked this spring, and not held out to the fall, which will be dominated by budget fights and the November elections.