Shutdown Blamed for Old Chemical Plant Security Lapses
OCTOBER 15, 2013
The ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee has launched a comical theatrical campaign warning that the government shutdown is endangering the country because security standards at chemical facilities aren’t being enforced.
Here’s where the funny part comes in; the so-called security standards have failed miserably over the years and are rarely enforced, even when the bloated federal government is open for business. This has been documented in a variety of federal probes, including a recent audit that reveals the U.S. has for years been at risk of a bioterrorism attack because the agency responsible for securing thousands of chemical labs fails to do its job.
We’re talking about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the monstrous agency created after 9/11 to protect the nation from another terrorist attack. A DHS branch called Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) is responsible for assuring that thousands of chemical facilities throughout the U.S. are secure under a special program known as Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). This has not happened, according to several federal audits that date back to 2007. In fact officials have for years failed to develop national standards for lab design, construction and operation even though congressional investigators called for the standards more than three years ago.
Shamefully, this is not new, some 4,000 high-risk chemical facilities throughout the country have long been vulnerable to a terrorist attack because the government has failed to secure them. California Congressman Henry Waxman has chosen to lie to the American people to dramatize what he calls the “dangerous consequence of the Republican shutdown of government.” He actually claims that the government shutdown is making it impossible to enforce safety and security standards formulated to strengthen the ability of thousands of U.S. chemical facilities to withstand terrorist attacks.
This is partly because the failed CFATS program expired and as a result there are no legally binding regulations in place to protect the nation’s chemical facilities from criminal and terrorist attacks, says the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In a memo to fellow Democrats on the panel, Waxman’s true reason for even bringing this up surfaced: “The media has reported countless stories about the many hardships caused by the Republicans’ decision to close the federal government. The purpose of this memorandum is to describe one unfortunate and dangerous consequence that has received little attention.”
Buried in the last page of his memo is Waxman’s acknowledgement that the “CFATS program has had a troubled history of implementation” and that he and a fellow congressman have called for a “stronger and more effective program.” Nevertheless, letting it expire will have dangerous consequences, according to Waxman. “But whatever the flaws in the CFATS program, the answer is not to let the program sunset without any replacement, which is exactly what congressional Republicans have done. This state of affairs leaves dangerous chemical facilities unregulated and vulnerable to attack.” How could anyone possibly take this seriously?
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