According to the Agricultural Retailers Association, on July 24, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Chairwoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) held a hearing on the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) chemical facility security regulations. DHS Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Bob Stephan, testifying on behalf of the agency, stated that DHS is in the process of implementing the new regulations with 6,096 facilities having registered with DHS and 194 facilities completing the agency's Web-based Top-Screen program. In his written comments, Stephan recognized several private sector programs to address facility security, including the Asmark Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) program offered by ARA to agricultural retailers through a partnership with state agribusiness organizations. DHS has completed their internal review of Appendix A: Chemicals of Interest and plans to send it shortly to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval likely to occur by late August.

The Committee also heard from Tim Scott, chief security officer and global director of emergency services at Dow Chemical Co.; P.J. Crowley from the Center for American Progress and witnesses representing the interests of labor unions and universities. Jackson-Lee and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a committee member, indicated that the subcommittee intends to look at future legislation on chemical facility security that promotes the use of inherently safer technologies. Jackson-Lee indicated that new legislation could be introduced this fall to address gaps in the DHS regulations with additional hearings. ARA co-signed a joint statement with the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), American Farm Bureau Federation, CHS and other ag groups urging propane to be removed from Appendix A due to the adverse impact the regulations would have on the agricultural industry and rural communities. To view a copy of the Joint Statement on Propane, go to ARA's Web site. To view witness testimony from the hearing, follow this link.