Regulation

Chemical plant security should be based on technology, not politics

As Congress considers legislation that would force our nation's chemical plants to make expensive changes in their processes and technologies, we need to make sure that we don't cripple our economy just to appease a small group of environmental activists -- all in the name of purportedly greater safety. That's the danger we face from IST, or Inherently Safer Technology. What could be wrong with a law that contains such a noble goal as safety? It has to do with the complexity of a modern industrial economy providing the backdrop on which unintended consequences develop. A recent article in The…
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Chemical security bill passes committee

On Tuesday, the United States House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee passed H.R. 2868, the "Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009." This bill contains provisions for Inherently Safer Technology (IST). These regulations seek to force companies to replace existing methods and raw materials with those deemed to be safer. But the legislation may not produce its intended effect. Congressional testimony found that this could actually increase risk to the businesses that the bill intends to protect. The problem, as with much government regulation, lies in the unintended consequences. The article Inherently Safer Technology (IST) not always that…
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The good thing Senator Ted Kennedy did

John Berlau reminds us of the legacy of Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy: Most tributes to the “Liberal Lion” focus on his accomplishments at expanding government spending and regulation. And indeed, those were the bulk of his achievements. But for a brief, shining moment, in the mid to late 1970s, Kennedy viewed smaller government as the most compassionate answer in one area of economic life: transportation. Kennedy was the prime mover in Congress behind the airline and trucking deregulation bills that were signed by President Jimmy Carter. He saw the impact of regulation in these industries as protecting entrenched companies…
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Government regulation failed again, yet more is called for

"No matter how much the government controls the economic system, any problem will be blamed on whatever small zone of freedom that remains." That's the opening shot in Sheldon Richman's article The Madoff Scandal Exposes Government Failure. Richman quotes a columnist who wrote, as have many, "The long, bipartisan experiment with financial deregulation has failed utterly." As if that happened. Richman counters: "... there has been no relevant financial deregulation to speak of. In fact, since Enron’s collapse, regulation has intensified and the regulatory budget has grown." Richman makes these major points: "A false sense of security is worse than…
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Good news on chemical security

There's been some good news from Congress recently about Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS. The National Association of Manufacturers reports: The Senate last week passed H.R. 2892, the Department of Homeland Security's appropriations bill, which included a one-year extension of department’s authority over security for chemical facilities potentially threatened by terrorist attacks. This one-year extension helps continue the progress that the agency and chemical industry have made in implementing safety and security regulations adopted in 2007, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. (CFATS). The House has also passed a one-year extension, and the approach is far superior to the permanent…
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Inherently Safer Technology (IST) not always that

Currently Congress is considering new regulations for chemical plants -- Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards or CFATS -- that will, if enacted, require substitution of technologies believed to be less vulnerable to terrorist attack. These regulations would affect facilities in addition to those we usually picture when thinking of chemical plants. The Wichita water treatment plant, for example, could be affected. The problem is that chemical manufacturing and processing is a complicated matter, and mandates that force the use of one chemical instead of another can have consequences that lead to less safety. An example of this may be found in…
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Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture

At the Kansas Meadowlark, there's some video about Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards. The video is from recent Congressional hearings, and is valuable for its explanation of Inherently Safer Technologies, or IST. Click on Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture for the video and commentary.
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In the world of chemical security, the real world

A post on a blog sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers explains a few of the problems with the proposed Chemical facility anti-terrorism standards legislation now making its way through Congress. One of the issues mentioned in the post In the World of Chemical Security, the Real World is the threat of excessive litigation: "But there are problems with the proposals, as he makes clear. He cites the 'private right of action,' i.e., encouraging litigation against companies as a parallel regulatory process." Unlike environmental statutes, CFATS is not a series of prescriptive statutory measures with which compliance is mandatory,…
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Current chemical security regulations should be reauthorized

Currently two committees in the United States House of Representatives are considering legislation that would harm a vital American industry. This industry is already regulated, and the regulations have accomplished their goal. As explained by the Texas Chemical Council: The current chemical security regulations are enforced by the Department of Homeland Security, which has clear authority to inspect facilities and apply strong penalties for non-compliance. Since the regulations have been in place, not one incident as a result of terrorism has occurred. These regulations have been effective. Removing the sunset date and making the chemical security regulations permanent would provide…
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