Ag Chem Facility Legislation Concerns Voiced

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently joined with 26 other associations representing leading U.S. manufacturers, users, and distributors of crop protection and petrochemical products to voice concerns over chemical security legislation through a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. One of ARA’s primary concerns with the legislation relate to an inherently safer technology (IST) mandate for retailers and distributors and a civil suits provision that could lead to the loss of key agricultural products.

The letter, distributed in advance of a hearing the week of Sept. 28 on chemical facility legislation, expresses ARA’s opposition to government mandating that chemical facilities assess or implement so-called inherently safer technologies. The letter explained that the risk- and performance-based Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program already gives facility owners and operators powerful incentives to implement enhanced security measures, improve processes, and substitute safer chemicals. It also endorsed a single, federal arrangement for advancing chemical security rather than a patchwork of differing and potentially conflicting state rules.

In addition, the letter also states that the organizations oppose provisions in the bill that would allow “any person” to bring lawsuits against regulated facilities or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enforce compliance with the act. It echoes the administration’s opposition to the citizen suit measure, and notes that the provision would encourage costly litigation and invite disclosure of sensitive information that could be used by terrorists.

The IST mandate and the civil suits provisions could ultimately lead to the loss of important crop production inputs such as ammonium nitrate fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia. It could also lead to the loss of other agricultural chemical products. This would place additional supply demands on substitute products that may be more expensive and impact crop yields, which would result in increased costs for growers.

Since 2006, businesses have committed approximately $4 billion toward making their chemical facilities more secure and resilient in an all-hazards context, according to an ARA press release. Industry partnerships with DHS, dedicated to implementing the CFATS program, are a leading example of this effort.

(Source: Agricultural Retailers Association press release)

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