The Senate is currently considering two chemical security bills that seem just about as diametrically opposed to each other as two bills could be.
Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) Chemical Security Act (S. 1602) is scheduled for mark-up this week. Corzine’s bill would require that facilities that pose hazards to their neighbors look for safer processes and adopt them where feasible. Under the act:
The EPA and the Department of Justice would identify the highest-priority facilities;
In response to the extremely short public comment period most agencies were offering on their draft data quality guidelines, Citizens for Sensible Safeguards, a broad-based coalition of organizations representing health, safety, civil rights, and environmental concerns, sent a letter to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator John Graham requesting an extension to the deadline for filing comments on federal agency data quality guidelines. Similar letters were sent to several key agencies requesting that they extend they public comment periods.
According to Associated Press reports last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may finally begin to require chemical plants to assess their vulnerabilities to a terrorist attack, and then take measures to reduce those risks.
While chemical plants have always posed significant risks to communities from “routine” accidents, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 prompted a reassessment of these threats and greater sense of urgency in addressing these risks, and as OMB Watch previously reported here, chemical plants have failed to effectively address the threats on their own.
Data Quality Efforts
OMB Watch has been extremely active on the Data Quality guidelines that have recently been drafted by most federal agencies. This article summarizes the main efforts OMB Watch has been involved in and the key documents and analysis we have produced.
In the last two weeks, most agencies covered by the Paperwork Reduction Act published proposed guidelines to implement the Data Quality Act, which was passed as a rider to an appropriations bill. The agency guidelines are to comport with guidelines developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) earlier this year. The list of agency guidelines is available online. Most agencies provide until the end of May to submit comments on the guidelines.
On May 6, 2002, President Bush granted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman the authority to classify information as "Secret." This order was published in the May 9, 2002, Federal Register. The delegation of this authority is provided in accordance with Executive Order 12958 of April 17, 1995, entitled ''Classified National Security Information.''