Thompson Commends Obama for Chemical Facility Security Executive Order
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement regarding news that President Obama issued an Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security this morning outlining a national effort to identify chemical facilities, which pose a safety and security risk to citizens, communities, and national security:
The President should be commended for taking urgent action on this critical issue and directing Federal agencies, for the first time, to organize themselves in a way that ensures that the patchwork of regulations work for the American people and actually keep our communities safer and more secure. I am pleased that the President listened to the concerns we outlined about the threat that unregulated chemical facilities potentially pose. The explosion in West, Texas in April is a tragic reminder that we are behind in identifying and securing these facilities – especially in rural communities. I look forward to working with the Administration to address this urgent security gap.
The Executive Order establishes a Federal chemical facility safety and security working group and directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and other appropriate Federal stakeholders to improve operational coordination with state and local partners, enhance Federal agency coordination and information sharing, modernize policies, regulations and standards, and work with stakeholders to identify best practices.
The Executive Order directs the agencies to, within 45 days, deploy a regional pilot program where best practices and new methods for collaboration on chemical facility safety and security would be tested and to, within 90 days, develop a plan that identifies ways to ensure State homeland security advisors and other key state officials have access to the information they need to prevent, prepare for, and respond to chemical incidents.
This news comes after Ranking Member Thompson, along with Rep. Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, asking him to consider steps in response to the explosion in April at an unregulated chemical plant in West, Texas and make such facilities less of a security risk.
# # #
Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978