Senator Bob Smith
Chemical Site Security
November 14, 2001
Thank you, Senator, for holding this hearing today on a topic that is important to all of us. I want to thank our witnesses for coming here to discuss chemical security.
The attacks of September 11 have left us all with a sense of vulnerability. Since that day, we have been reevaluating security measures at what are potential targets across this nation, whether it is our airports, water facilities, nuclear power plants, transportation infrastructure, or our manufacturing facilities. Sadly, September 11 changed us forever -- we are now caught in an on-going process of adjusting to a new “normal.”
I continue to be a strong supporter of ensuring the most effective security possible. I have authored legislation to deal with security measures for our water infrastructure facilities and I have joined Senator Inhofe in introducing a bill to address security measures at nuclear power plants. I am pleased to be working with the Chairman of the full committee to address many other security and terrorism response related issues. I will work with any member of this committee to ensure that any potential security gaps are identified and properly addressed.
The protection of our country is not a partisan issue -- and I will never treat it as such. When we talk about security, we must realize that there comes a responsibility to legislate in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
We must base our decisions on an accurate assessment of the situation, needs, and clear understanding of the role of the private sector -- and the role and responsibility of the government. We cannot base our decisions on sensationalism or in response to fear tactics B we must rely on the facts.
I want to commend Senator Corzine for his interest and efforts with regard to Chemical Site security -- but, unfortunately, I do not believe his legislation is the right answer. I certainly share with him a desire for our chemical infrastructure to be safe and prepared, but I would advocate a different approach for achieving security.
Security should be a cooperative effort between the facilities and local, state and federal law enforcement. It should be a partnership with a constant line of open communication. It is only through working together and building trust that will provide for the highest level of security against any potential attack. Cooperation, partnership, teamwork and coordination are the hallmarks of a successful security apparatus.
Unfortunately, this bill takes a different approach. S. 1602 establishes a new regulatory, punitive regime that will create an adversarial relationship between industry and government. A strained relationship between the private sector and government will not lead to increase security, but will only serve to weaken our ability to protect the public. And I know that is not the goal of the author of this bill, and it is certainly not the outcome I desire.
Another fundamental question that this bill brings to the fore is: What is the proper role of a private sector entity in protecting itself against potential criminal acts or acts of war?
Clearly the acts of terrorism that we have seen are acts of war. It is a question that I wish to pose to each of our witnesses: Where do you believe the line of responsibility is for protection against criminal acts? -- where does the private sector’s responsibility end and law enforcement’s begin?
We all pay taxes that support a military and local law enforcement. The Constitution mandates a primary responsibility of the government to “provide for the common defense.” In this bill that law enforcement responsibility is that of the facility.
This bill actually makes it a crime for not being able to prevent a act of terrorism. In fact, it would be a crime to be the victim of a criminal act that caused a release. That is a disconcerting proposition for the many small businesses around this nation who would fall under this legislation.
I do support measures that will improve our industrial security, and I do believe that it is the responsibility of these private facilities to take all reasonable measures in providing security, preventing releases and responding if one occurs. And a post-September 11 security assessment of all this nation’s infrastructure is an absolute must.
I am disappointed that the previous Administration did not do this -- as the law did require. But any security measures by individual facilities should not be expected to take the place of law enforcement. They should be done in concert with law enforcement.
I am also very concerned with provisions in this bill that gives the federal government the power to determine manufacturing processes and changes in a facility’s physical structure. It puts the government in a position of making business decisions.
S. 1602 is basically one of role reversal -- The bill would put the government in charge of chemical manufacturing and chemical manufacturers in charge of fighting terrorism. I do have a number of other concerns with the bill -- such as the redundancies with other laws, including transportation laws, that could cause problems. But given that I am short on time, I will stop here.
I would like to ask unanimous consent that a letter from the Association of American Railroads expressing opposition to S. 1602 be placed into the record. I do, again, want to commend Senator Corzine on his efforts, and I hope to work with him to address these concerns and the mutual desire we all share with protecting this nation from terrorists’ attacks.