Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff Calls for New Legislation to Protect Chemical Facilities
Tuesday March 21, 5:55 pm ET
American Chemistry Council Joins Push for DHS Authority
ARLINGTON, Va., March 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Speaking at Washington, D.C.'s first National Chemical Security Forum today, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff and representatives of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) agreed that the time has come for DHS to receive new authority to set and enforce federal risk-based security standards at all of America's chemical facilities. The Forum was hosted by George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute and ACC.
"I want to challenge Congress to take the steps this year to enact a sensible bill that will allow us to complete the process across the entire spectrum of this sector of getting the chemical plant sector where it needs to be in terms of national security," Chertoff said.
"ACC members set the bar for private sector security programs through our Responsible Care® Security Code," said ACC President and CEO Jack N. Gerard, "investing nearly $3 billion since 9-11 enhancing security at more than 2000 facilities. But we don't represent everyone. It's time to give DHS the regulatory authority that will ensure the entire chemical sector -- a critical part of our national infrastructure -- is protected from terrorist attack."
Gerard continued, "I am pleased that Secretary Chertoff supports our efforts and is urging Congress to act. We look forward to helping move forward Chairwoman Susan Collins' (R-ME) bill in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and also working with the House Committee on Homeland Security, DHS and the rest of the Administration to pass legislation for the President's signature."
In his remarks, Chertoff identified three elements that should be part of any legislation:
* Prioritizing and managing the highest risks; * Not micromanaging the private sector and allowing companies to identify the best ways to achieve performance standards; * Rewarding those who have taken steps on a voluntary basis and not penalizing good corporate citizens.
"We ought to say to the industry, 'Look, here's where we need to go," Chertoff explained. "Now, there are a lot of different roads to get there. And you can choose the road that best fits your particular kind of chemical, or your particular type of operation. We're not going to micromanage. What we do insist, though, is that you get to the place you need to be.'"
"What we're doing at Dow falls very much in line with what the Secretary was talking about," said Tim Scott, chief security officer and global director of emergency services at Dow Chemical. "We approach security from a risk management perspective, and we try to identify the right level of risk and the right approach to reduce that risk at all of our sites."
The Forum provided a unique opportunity for government and the private sector to discuss chemical facility security and legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill.
Allison Boyd, Counsel, Majority Staff, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, closed the Forum by saying, "I want to take this opportunity to thank the industry for its voluntary efforts under the Responsible Care banner. ACC is clearly a leader, and we want to encourage what the industry is doing."
Source: American Chemistry Council
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