TFI Urges Congress to Reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program
Chemistry is essential to food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and energy. Chemistry provides new solutions to challenges, including cleaner air, water, and energy consumption. Without chemistry, the smartphones that keep us all connected would not exist. And as it pertains to food, we would be without the roughly 50% of crop yields that are directly attributable to chemical fertilizers. Hence, chemistry’s importance to farmers and food security. Critical chemical infrastructure facilities are essential to our quality of life, and we should ensure they have appropriate safeguards to minimize security threats.
The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program enhances security at critical chemical infrastructure facilities. In 2007, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) created the CFATS program. Since then, CFATS has provided essential guidance to the private sector to identify and ensure certain facilities are taking the appropriate security measures to reduce the risk that chemicals can be weaponized by terrorists.
All Americans benefit from CFATS, yet the program, which is broadly supported by the regulated community, expired on July 27th. Congress must act quickly to reauthorize this critical security program.
On July 12th, the House Committee on Homeland Security approved H.R. 4470, which reauthorizes CFATS for two years. The bill received an overwhelming 30-0 vote in its favor. The House then passed the legislation resoundingly, only receiving a single vote against its reauthorization. Disappointingly, the Senate was unable to reach an agreement prior to the August recess and the program expired.
The CFATS program has been supported by the industry since its creation in 2007. TFI has encouraged its members to continue complying with CFATS regulations as if the program was still being enforced. Additionally, ResponsibleAg, an industry-led initiative committed to helping agribusinesses properly store and handle farm input supplies and to ensure they are compliant with environmental, health, safety and security regulations, has also communicated about the importance of continuing to operate within the compliance of the expired CFATS program regulations.
While facilities can maintain much of the CFATS regulatory compliance in the face of expiration, some critical tools and resources are no longer available to facilities. For example, access to the Chemical Security Assessment Tool has been removed, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can no longer perform inspections or provide CFATS compliance assistance, nor can it accept new names for background vetting pursuant to the CFATS Personnel Surety Program.
TFI will continue working closely with the CFATS coalition, Department of Homeland Security, and Congress to ensure this critical program is reauthorized as quickly as possible to ensure our nation’s chemical facilities have the proper tools and resources to remain secure.