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House of Representatives Passes Chemical Plant and Water Utility Security Legislation

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., November 17, 2009

On November 6, 2009, the House of Representatives passed a bill to permanently reauthorize the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (“CFATS”) program.  The bill, H.R. 2868, would maintain the core features of the existing program, as administered by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) since 2006, but would make significant additions as well.  Most significantly, H.R. 2868 would authorize DHS to require chemical facilities deemed to be high-risk to adopt “inherently safer technology” (“IST”) under some circumstances.  H.R. 2868 also includes provisions for two forms of citizen participation.  One would allow citizen suits challenging DHS’s implementation of CFATS.  The other would require DHS to establish procedures for citizen petitions, by which any person could effectively compel DHS to investigate an alleged violation of CFATS requirements.  The version of H.R. 2868 that ultimately passed the House incorporates as separate sections two other bills to establish security programs for drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.  These programs would be administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and state environmental agencies.

This client alert provides additional details on the evolution and current status of chemical plant and water utility security legislation.  To read the full alert, click here

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