MARC MORANO 202-224-5762

MATT DEMPSEY 202-224-9797


Chemical Plant Explodes While Senate Democrats Fiddle  

WASHINGTON, DC - Much like Nero fiddled while Rome burned, yesterday Senate Democrats continued to delay the confirmation of John Bresland as the Chairman of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, on the same day as a massive chemical plant explosion in Florida.

In addition to an over five month delay for Chairman Bresland’s reappointment, the Senate Democrats have also delayed appointing Charles Shearer as a Commissioner to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

Bresland and Mr. Shearer were both nominated on July 11, 2007.  Bresland’s current term as Chairman expired on August 2, 2007, and the Senate Democrats have failed to move on his nomination in a timely fashion. The first delay occurred in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when the Committee refused to hold a confirmation hearing on their nominations until October, and then continued the delay for two more months by not reporting them until December 5th. Yesterday, on the same day as an explosion at a chemical facility in Jacksonville, Florida, Senate Democrats refused to consider their nominations until at least January 2008, when the Senate reconvenes.

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The Board Chairman serves as the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for agency administration. The post has now been vacant since early August while Chairman Bresland continues to wait for his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, commented today on these delays.  

“By not allowing the Chairman to be confirmed, Senate Democrats are jeopardizing the effectiveness of the Board while they move to investigate one of the largest chemical accidents in over two years. A swift confirmation process is necessary to maintain the five member Board’s effectiveness," Senator Inhofe said.

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