Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FEMA Publishes Information Collection Request Notice in Federal Register

Posted by Roberts Law Group, PLLC at 9:52 AM 0 comments
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on Monday published in the Federal Register a new 30-day Information Collection Request (ICR) notice supporting the FEMA Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). The original 60-day notice for this ICR was published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2009. FEMA has submitted this information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance.

FEMA's PSGP was created to create a collaborative, risk-based counter-terrorism initiative by protecting critical port infrastructure from terrorist acts, especially those where explosives or non-conventional threats could cause a major disruption to U.S. commerce. The PSGP provides grant funding to U.S. port areas to assist in U.S. port protection, by enhancing maritime domain awareness and enhancing the ability to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from a variety of potential terrorist attacks. FEMA “uses the [ICR] to evaluate applicants' familiarity with the national preparedness architecture and identify how elements of this architecture have been incorporated into regional/state/local planning, operations, and investments.”

Monday's request varies slightly from the original November ICR. FEMA Form 089-21, Ferry Investment Justification, has been removed. Additionally, FEMA added “Business or other for-profit” to the Affected Public portion of the request, which resulted in an increase in the Estimated Number of Respondents and in the Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours.

The new comment period ends April 28, 2010. Public comments should be addressed to the Desk Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and sent via email to oira.submission@omb.eop.gov or faxed to (202) 395-5806.

Friday, March 26, 2010

DHS's National Infrastructure Advisory Council to Hold Meeting

Posted by Roberts Law Group, PLLC at 6:43 AM 0 comments
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Tuesday that its National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) will hold a meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. NIAC, composed of members from private industry, academia, and state and local government that are appointed by the U.S. President, submits reports and issues advice to the President regarding the eighteen critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) and their information systems. The published agenda for the April meeting is to discuss reports from two of the NIAC's working groups: "A Framework for Establishing Critical Infrastructure Resilience Goals," and "Optimization of Resources for Mitigating Infrastructure Disruption." The linked presentations are from the January 12, 2010 NIAC meeting.

Participation in the meeting is limited to committee members and other DHS officials. However, the meeting is open to public comment. Members of the public may submit written comments by December 30, 2010, either online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or via mail, to: Nancy Wong, Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate, 245 Murray Lane, SW., Mail Stop 0607, Arlington, VA 20598-0607. Comments should reference Docket No. DHS-2010-0025.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PHMSA Publishes HMR Security Plan Final Rule

Posted by Roberts Law Group, PLLC at 3:48 PM 0 comments
The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Tuesday published in the Federal Register a Final Rule regarding security plans for shipments of hazardous materials (hazmats) under the hazardous materials regulations (HMR) [at 49 CFR Parts 100-185]. The Rule, published at 75 Fed. Reg. 10974-89, would amend 49 CFR Part 172 to clarify that shippers and carriers of hazmats covered by HMR should adopt security plans required under the rule only after considering specific risks and vulnerabilities, as opposed to using generic security plans. The Final Rule authorizes voluntary compliance as of April 8, 2010. In order to allow companies to make required changes in their current security plans, the effective date for the Rule is October 1, 2010.

Tuesday’s Final Rule is a culmination of a regulatory process that began on September 21, 2006, with publication of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) [at 73 Fed. Reg. 55156] responding to a number of industry petitions to reduce the number of hazmats covered by HMR. PHMSA, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), conducted a review of the potential security threats facing industry in charge of hazmat transportation, concluding that the list of materials posing a significant threat of a terrorist attack while enroute could be amended. This allowed an elimination of some classes of hazmats entirely from the security plan requirement. It also allowed a reduction in the triggering quantity initially provided for other classes of hazmats, reducing coverage by the regulation.

On September 9, 2008, PHMSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for this rule [at 73 Fed. Reg. 52558], indicating that it intended to clarify the requirements for HMR security plans to address security issues along specific routes or specific locations. A number of the comments received following the NPRM indicated that there was some confusion about the impact of this wording. Accordingly, in the Final Rule published Tuesday, PHMSA revised the text of 49 CFR §172.802(a) to “more clearly state that shippers and carriers must consider site-specific risks and vulnerabilities at facilities subject to the security planning requirement” instead of simply using generic security plans. Most of the other requirements outlined in the NPRM have already been adopted as proposed.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Senate Holds Chemical Facility Security Hearing

Posted by Roberts Law Group, PLLC at 11:22 AM 0 comments
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held a hearing Wednesday morning discussing chemical security issues and concerns, namely surrounding the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and its current regulatory and legislative status. The hearing, titled "Chemical Security: Assessing Progress and Charting a Path Forward," consisted of testimony elicited by the Committee from The Honorable Rand Beers, Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) National Protection and Programs Directorate; Sue Armstrong, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for DHS's Office of Infrastructure Protection; and The Honorable Peter S. Silva, Assistant Administrator for Water at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); as well as representatives from the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), the American Chemistry Council; and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA).

Much of the hearing focused around the issue of inherently safer technology (IST), as proposed in legislation passed by the House last November (H.R. 2868) that would provide permanent congressional authority for chemical facility security regulation. DHS continues to support IST provisions in legislation that would reauthorize CFATS, while recognizing that much debate continues to surround implementation of IST provisions. The Hon. Rand Beers reiterated the previous stance taken by DHS on this matter, explaining that DHS would take deliberate measures to work with facilities to assess the feasibility of implementing IST, taking into account critical chemical facility changes as well as industry costs. According to testimony elicited Wednesday, IST would only be implemented after listening to all stakeholder interests - assuming the provisions pass full Congressional debate.

According to testimony by both The Hon. Rand Beers and Sue Armstrong, two Tier 1 facilities in the New York/New Jersey area have been selected for DHS inspection pilot programs. DHS plans to inspect ten more Tier 1 facilities this month, and to conclude with the inspection of all 235 Tier 1 facilities by the end of the calendar year. DHS inspection techniques and expectations continue to evolve and change during these initial pilot inspections, according to both Beers and Armstrong.

The hearing comes one month after Senators Collins, Pryor, Landrieu, and Voinovich introduced S. 2996, the Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2010, which would authorize an extension of CFATS until October 4, 2015. The Senate bill differs in several ways from the House bill passed in May, notably with its absence of IST provisions detailed in the House bill. During the hearing, DHS reiterated that it supports permanent authorization of chemical facility security legislation, and noted that it plans to provide Congress with draft legislation later this fiscal year. Wednesday's hearing is the first held by the Senate regarding chemical facility security since July 2005, when it held a similar 2-panel hearing.