Water Sector Exemption May Remain in Chemical Anti-Terrorism Standards Reauthorization

(September 18, 2019) - The House Committee on Energy & Commerce held a hearing on September 11 on H.R. 3256, the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2019.  The Act would reauthorize and improve the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. 

The CFATS regulations went into effect in 2007 and apply to facilities that use and store potentially dangerous chemicals in quantities that present safety risks to people at the facility and in nearby communities.

Drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities are specifically exempt from the CFATS program, and NACWA and other water sector associations have consistently advocated for continuing this exemption.  Two witnesses at the September 11 hearing – John Paul Smith of the United Steelworkers and Michele Roberts of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform – both cited the water treatment facility exemption as a gap in CFATS that should be closed.  However, the current bill does not change the status of water treatment facilities. 

NACWA will monitor the CFATS reauthorization process for any changes in the status of water utilities.  Please contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs, with any questions.