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 explains how these regulations can work to increase the real danger that Americans might face. In this example, a switch to a different input chemical would mean many more chemical tanker trucks would be on our nation’s highways.
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, not more.
In a letter to Henry Waxman and Joe Barton, Chair and Ranking Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, told how “The bill’s IST provisions may result in simply transferring risk to other points along the supply chain instead of reducing risks as intended.”
He also said that these mandates will increase cost: “Not only will IST mandates fail to reduce risk, but they will also impose significant financial hardship on refiners and petrochemical producers struggling in the current economic recession. In addition to the fact that mandated switches may not reduce risk, some estimates indicate that forced changes could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars per facility.”
There are existing regulations that have been effect for some time, and have proven to work. As one industry group wrote earlier this year: “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.”
We have working regulations in place. So why are we contemplating more burdensome regulations that will surely increase cost, while at the same time increasing the risks Americans face?