Greenpeace: Republican Led Chemical Security Bills Fail to Protect Millions

Mar 04, 2011, 14:42 ET from Greenpeace

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Representatives Dan Lungren (R-CA) and Timothy Murphy (R-PA) introduced three chemical security bills.  These bills extend a flawed temporary law for three and seven years respectively earning them the support of chemical industry lobbyists.  The temporary law was enacted in 2006 to give Congress time to enact a comprehensive program.  It is far from comprehensive and leaves more than 100 million Americans at risk of chemical disasters in 41 states.

"These bills are belated Valentines to the chemical industry and are an irresponsible distraction from a long overdue comprehensive security program," said Rick Hind, legislative director for Greenpeace. "This legislation fails to require any disaster prevention at the highest risk chemical plants and continues to exempt hundreds of hazardous refineries and water treatment plants."

All three bills fail to include policies that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly requested.  

  • They bar the DHS from requiring "smart security" or safer chemical processes that would prevent terrorists from causing a chemical disasters. -- The DHS requested that all facilities assess "smart security" and the highest risk plants implement it where feasible.
  • They perpetuate the security gap for water treatment and port facilities including 125 refineries. -- The DHS requested this gap be closed by having the EPA oversee security at water treatment plants and the DHS oversee port facilities under the same security rules as chemical plants.
  • They perpetuate a largely voluntary program and do nothing to prevent the shifting of catastrophic hazards from one community to another community.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is expected to introduce comprehensive chemical plant security legislation based on bills he authored in 2010 (S. 3598 & S. 3599) which would eliminate catastrophic risks to millions of Americans and create thousands of jobs. It was based on the compromise bill (H.R. 2868) that passed the House in 2009.

Opponents of these bills claim that it cost jobs.  However, Management Information Services, Inc. analyzed H.R. 2868 and concluded: "H.R. 2868 will have a slight positive impact on the U.S. economy and a small increase in net employment nationwide. In addition, the legislation will place thousands of employees and millions of U.S. residents in a vastly safer environment."

SOURCE Greenpeace