Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009

Nov 5, 2009
Floor Speech

 

  Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support as an original cosponsor of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009. We must take extraordinary measures to defend America. This is common sense.

   I want to thank the chairman of Homeland Security for all of his work on the bill, as well as commending Chairman Oberstar and Chairman Waxman for coming together with one voice on this critical piece of legislation.

   It has to be clear to all of us that this bill is long overdue and that chemical security is one of the greatest vulnerabilities to our homeland security infrastructure. Both sides admit to that point.

   This bill reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security's authority to implement and enforce the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards which are currently set to expire in October of 2010. In fact, the bill strengthens these standards in a number of significant ways.

   Now, let's get to the meat and potatoes of what we will be debating this afternoon--and getting the amendments whenever the heck that happens.

   The State of New Jersey is home to the most dangerous 2 miles in America--the FBI has pointed this out many times--along the Jersey Turnpike. Because it is the most densely populated State, with a very large chemical industry presence, I am proud to say that the State has adopted some of the strongest chemical security standards in the Nation, and it's time the Federal Government caught up. That is why I am surprised and deeply disappointed that there are Members of this body who actually hope to strip the State preexemption language out of this bill. We need to raise Federal standards, as we do in this bill, and not force States to lower their standards.

   The Acting CHAIR (Mr. Serrano). The time of the gentleman has expired.

   Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman, I yield the gentleman 1 additional minute.

   Mr. PASCRELL. I am also very disappointed that the chemical industry and Members of this body continue to raise unnecessary fears about the inherently safer technology assessments. We have gone over this in testimony since 2006.

   The State of New Jersey has rightfully required chemical facilities to assess for safer technology assessments, and believe it or not, our State is not only safer for it, but the sky hasn't fallen on the chemical companies in New Jersey. The truth is that this bill is not only the best thing for our homeland security, but also the best thing for the chemical industry, because assuring safety and greater efficiencies is a tremendous cost saver in the long run.

   Mr. Chairman, this should be a bipartisan issue. We say that protecting the American people is our number one priority. Now is the moment to prove it.

   I urge bipartisan passage of this bill.

###