Rep King to chair House Homeland Security panel in 2011

08 December 2010 18:27  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Congressman Peter King (Republican-New York) on Wednesday was selected as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee for the 112th US Congress that convenes in January, his office said.

King was named chairman of the key committee in a vote by his fellow Republican members of the House.

In the recent 2 November US national elections, Republicans won majority control of the House.  All of the House committees would necessarily switch to Republican leadership for the 2011-2012 sessions of the 112th Congress.

King’s election as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is important to the US chemicals sector because he has said that he would not allow federal regulators to have authority over chemical manufacturing and product decisions on security grounds.

Shortly after the election, King said he would oppose major changes to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the federal programme that mandates security criteria at some 6,000 US chemical facilities regarded as potential targets for terrorists seeking massive off-site casualties.

In particular, King expressed opposition to a measure approved by the Democrat-controlled House in 2009 that would have given federal regulators authority to impose inherently safer technology (IST) criteria on chemical plants as a security measure.  That bill was never acted on in the Senate.

Chemical sector officials have long opposed such an IST mandate, fearing it would give regulators authority to dictate changes in feedstocks, processes and end products at specific production sites.

King also said that he wants to pass legislation to make the CFATS programme permanent, so as to provide industry with a level of long-term certainty and regulatory continuity.

Although passed by Congress in 2005 and put into force in 2006, CFATS had a three-year “sunset” provision, meaning it was scheduled to expire in 2009 unless renewed by Congress.

Congressional opponents of the initial CFATS legislation had demanded the three-year expiration clause with the expectation that they could toughen the measure during the 2009 legislative year.

However, CFATS was extended without alteration to 2010, and it is expected to be carried over to 2011 in its present form as part of the final work of the current 111th Congress in the next few weeks.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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