DHS drops plan to screen chemical-plant workers for terrorist ties.

Image: Robert Schreuder The Homeland Security Department has withdrawn its…

Shell Chemicals
Image: Robert Schreuder

The Homeland Security Department has withdrawn its plan to screen people with access to dangerous chemical plants for possible terrorist ties, prompting questions on how the department will move forward with the task of implementing its struggling chemical-security program.

Suzanne Spaulding, deputy undersecretary for the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, confirmed during a congressional hearing on Thursday that the department had pulled the proposal late last week. The plan, under which chemical companies would have been required to submit information about people who have access to their high-risk facilities, had been languishing at the White House Office of Management and Budget since June 2011.

In April, a broad range of industry trade groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council, and the American Petroleum Institute — sent a letter to OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein urging him to reject the plan, which is part of the DHS Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards initiative. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, federal agencies must seek approval from the White House when demanding information from companies.

Source: Douglas P. Guarino for Global Security Newswire.

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