ILTA Gets Legislative Win with Finalization of Three-Year CFATS Reauthorization
ILTA’s two-year legislative effort successfully concluded the night before the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program was set to expire on July 23, when President Trump signed a three-year reauthorization of the program. The Senate had passed the three-year compromise bill on July 1, with the House following on July 20.
ILTA and its member companies have been working toward a long-term reauthorization of CFATS, a critical program aimed at preventing chemicals from being stolen, diverted, sabotaged or deliberately released by terrorists. ILTA has successfully fought efforts to expand CFATS into areas unrelated to protection against terrorism. Our efforts have included dozens of meeting with members and staff, letters to the Hill (including one letter to the House in July), two successful sets of Lobby Day meetings by members of the ILTA Board of Directors, along with visits from ILTA member company executives with DHS and with offices on Capitol Hill.
Our goal has been a long-term reauthorization of CFATS that includes ILTA’s language to permanently remove gasoline and other fuel mixtures from the CFATS written regulations. Through its advocacy efforts, ILTA was able to persuade DHS to agree that the fuels language should be removed. In hopes of avoiding time-consuming rulemaking, the agency supported ILTA’s call for a legislative fix to the issue.
At the same time, Democrats in both the House and Senate were attempting to use the reauthorization of CFATS as an opportunity to redirect the focus of the program away from antiterrorism and onto some of their labor, environmental and worker safety priorities. ILTA and the industry coalition with which we have been working were successful in limiting the focus on keeping chemical facilities safe from terrorist attack.
Ultimately, because of delays caused by the partisan divide in Washington and the long COVID-19 crisis, which kept Congress out of Washington, time for a bipartisan compromise ran out and no changes, including ours, were made to the program.
ILTA plans to pursue DHS’ promise to address the issue through a Notice and Comment rulemaking. Although this will take time, we are pleased that, while the fuels rule remains part of the regulatory language, thanks to ILTA’s earlier efforts, DHS has not enforced it in more than a decade.