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Reauthorize CFATS for National Security

Congress should reauthorize a lapsed critical security program overseeing chemical facilities, the NAM and 13 other industry groups told legislators last week.

What’s going on: The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program—which expired at the end of July 2023 after a measure that would have extended it for two years stalled in the Senate—is vital to national security, the NAM and its partner organizations said to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last Friday.

  • “The CFATS program’s primary mission is to help reduce the risk of a terrorist attack on the highest-risk chemical facilities by addressing a wide range of potential terrorist threats,” they said. It “is the only program that assisted chemical facilities in identifying potential risks and developing plans to counter cyber and physical threats.”
  • When the program expired last summer, all planned facility inspections were canceled and the approximately 250 employees working under it were reassigned, GREENWIRE (subscription) reports.

What it did: CFATS “require[d] more than 3,200 high-risk facilities housing any of the 300 ‘chemicals of interest’ to submit safety plans to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Now, the federal government no longer knows which facilities possess these chemicals, and it can no longer accept any information from the facilities,” according to GREENWIRE.

  • The lapse of the program means companies can no longer access a federal watchlist database they previously used to vet potential employees, according to GREENWIRE, and the Department of Homeland Security is no longer “able to review security plans from companies and cannot conduct on-site visits to test a facility’s resilience to terrorist threats,” the NAM and other groups reminded Congress.  

What must be done: “Congress must prioritize CFATS reauthorization so we can stay ahead of the ever-evolving threats facing our nation,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wrote in a social post Friday.

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