Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Legislative Alert: Chemical Security Bill To Come Up In The House

Yesterday I described the industry-friendly travesty masquerading as a real Chemical Plant Security bill that the House-Senate Conference Committee tacked onto the Department of Homeland Security's appropriations bill last night.

The bill exempts thousands of plants from coverage, pre-empts stronger state protections, exempts water and wastewater treatment plants (even though they often use rail tankers full enough chlorine to wipe out a medium sized city) and has no requirement for plants to even consider inherently safer technologies.

The House may vote on the bill tomorrow, Friday or Saturday. Most of the Democrats will probably vote correctly, so we need a few Republicans. They all have close races, so they may be willing to listen to one of their constituents.

If you're in any of these Republicans' districts, give them a call at (202) 224-3121.

J.D. Hayworth AZ
Richard Pombo CA
Rob Simmons CT
Chris Shays CT
Nancy Johnson CT
Clay Shaw FL
Chris Choclola IN
John Hostettler IN
Mike Sodrel IN
Geoff Davis KY
Anne Northup KY
Charlie Bass NH
Mike Ferguson NJ
Heather Wilson NM
Charles Taylor NC
Peter King NY
John Sweeney NY
Randy Kuhl NY
Jon Porter NV
Steve Chabot OH
Deborah Pryce OH
Jim Gerlach PA
Curt Weldon PA
Mike Fitzpatrick PA
Don Sherwood PA
Henry Bonilla TX
Dave Reichert WA
Frank Wolf VA
Thelma Drake VA

The message is that they should vote to pass the much stronger H.R. 5695, which was passed by House and Senate Homeland Security Committees to replace the industry supported rider in the Homeland Security Funding Bill.

HR 5695 allows states to set stronger standards and gives the Deparatment of Homeland Security the authority to require the use of less dangerous chemicals at high risk facilities as long as it wouldn't impair the business of the facility.

Meanwhile, Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Frank Lautenberg (D-IL) issued a press release today blasting yesterday's closed door vote on the bill:

"The sad truth is that this legislation does far more to protect chemical industry interests than it does to protect the millions of Americans who would be at risk if terrorists were to attack a chemical plant," said Senator Obama. "Our inability to secure these sites is one of our greatest security failures since the September 11th attacks."

"We're five years out from September 11th and America still hasn't secured its chemical facilities from terrorists. Instead of adopting the House and Senate plans to protect the nation's chemical plants, the Republicans and the White House went behind closed doors and cut a deal with the chemical industry," said Senator Lautenberg.


"This bill explicitly bars DHS from replacing dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives, and it weakens this Administration's ability to better secure these plants," Obama said. "There are serious gaps in our nation's chemical plant security, but this legislation falls well short of fixing the problems."

OK, enough reading. Time to pick up the phone.