The House Subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection, and security technologies approved a seven-year extension of the rules overseeing chemical production facility security. The measure now moves to the full Homeland Security Committee.

The bill, H.R. 901, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011, was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-CA), and co-sponsored by full Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) and seven other committee members. The measure would extend for seven years the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) authority to regulate the security of high-risk chemical facilities under the authority granted in Sec. 550 of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007.

“It is critical that we extend this regulatory authority so that DHS can continue to secure chemical facilities through the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program,” Lungren said. “H.R. 901 reaffirms Congress’ commitment to fight terrorism and improve security at our nation’s chemical facilities while preserving the ability of the chemical industry to be competitive, remain innovative and create well-paying jobs.”

Congress first authorized DHS to regulate security at high-risk chemical facilities in 2006. In response, DHS developed the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS), which require high-risk chemical facilities to complete security vulnerability assessments, develop site security plans, and implement protective measures necessary to meet risk-based performance standards established by DHS.

DHS is still in the process of fully implementing CFATS, necessitating an extension of the existing regulatory authority, said the subcommittee. To date, DHS has reviewed information submitted by more than 39,000 chemical facilities and determined that 4,744 are high-risk and, therefore, covered under CFATS, it said.