Watching Government: CFATS working, AFPM chief says

Feb. 26, 2018
The federal Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program is working well and needs only relatively minor changes before its current authorization expires in January 2019, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Chet Thompson told the US House Homeland Security Committee on Feb. 15.

The federal Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program is working well and needs only relatively minor changes before its current authorization expires in January 2019, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Chet Thompson told the US House Homeland Security Committee on Feb. 15.

"The 2014 CFATS reauthorization made critical improvements to the program that the Department of Homeland Security has done an excellent job in implementing," Thompson said in his written testimony. "Congress should build upon the recent success of the program by passing a multiyear reauthorization that protects sensitive security information and ensures the program remains targeted and effective."

CFATS originally was authorized in the 2007 federal appropriation bill, and gave The Department of Homeland Security the imperative, but little statutory guidance, on how to establish the new security program, he said. It eventually developed the top-screen program, tiering, and Risk-Based Performance Standards approach, but struggled to approve site security plans and ran into issues with both tiering and governance, he said.

The 2014 reauthorization included changes that helped DHS improve the program, Thompson said. These included updates to risk assessments and the tiering methodology, the establishment of an Expedited Approval Program (EAP) for Tier 3 and 4 facilities, the reinforcement of coordination with state and local officials, and streamlining the vetting process through the Personnel Surety Program (PSP) for Tiers 1 and 2, he said.

"The structure of the CFATS framework is sound," Thompson stated. "AFPM supports the performance-based approach that has been applied to CFATS implementation and regulation and believes this approach has worked well for facilities from a compliance and efficiency standpoint. As a result, major changes are not necessary."

Thompson said as Congress considers reauthorizing CFATS, AFPM and its members recommend that federal lawmakers:

• Enact a multiyear, but not permanent, reauthorization.

• Protect the confidentiality of site security information Promote transparency in any changes to CFATS Appendix A and Chemicals of Interest (COI).

Avoid major changes that will further hamper implementation of the CFATS program and divert resources to duplicative or otherwise wasteful policies.

"DHS has made significant progress in implementing the CFATS program, but work remains," Thompson said. "AFPM cautions against adding new and extraneous provisions that will slow or diminish the progress to date, including expansion of stakeholders involved in [Sector-Specific Plan] development, resubmission of top-screen information untethered from a material change to a facility's profile, requirements for further credentials, or other related changes."

Also testifying at the hearing were BASF Corp. Corporate Security Director Kirsten Meskill, who spoke on the American Chemistry Council's behalf; CHS Inc. Environment, Health, and Safety Director Pete Mutschler; and Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters Safety Advocate Paul Orum.