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Senate Committee Hearing on Chemical Security: Obama Administration Reiterates Support for Comprehensive Chemical Security Legislation

by Mae Stevens

March 4, 2010

At the March 3rd Senate hearing on chemical security, the Obama Administration reiterated its support for a comprehensive chemical security program that includes using safer chemical processes to eliminate catastrophic risks at the highest risk plants. Click here for more information.
Rand Beers, the Undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who oversees chemical security said the administration will support legislation that, “permanently authorizes and appropriately matures” the current regulations. He reiterated the administration’s strong support, originally stated at the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last year, to conditionally require the highest risk plants, when feasible, to convert to a safer chemical or process.
Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency echoed support for the safer technology provision, and “We need to work with Congress to close this gap in order to secure substances of concern at these facilities and to protect the communities they serve.”
Senator Lieberman (I-CT) also showed his support for including drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, not covered in the current regulations, and support for a safer chemicals and processes provision in the bill.
However, in a callous rant (reminiscent of Sen. Jim Bunning filibustering this week against the extention unemployment benefits during the worst recession since the Great Depression) Senator Voinovich (R-OH), railed against the legislation and requiring the use of safer chemical processes, saying, "The real issue is what’s the need. Is there an overriding need that we have to do this now? Is there something that’s going to happen that’s catastrophic or something of that sort?"
 
The next step will be getting a comprehensive bill introduced and voted on in this committee and in the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, which will have jurisdiction over the drinking water and wastewater portions of a comprehensive bill once introduced.
Please call on your Senators today and urge them to support comprehensive chemical security legislation. Take Action here.

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