States Prevail Over Industry with Tougher Chemical Security Laws

January 16, 2008

The federal government won’t override New Jersey’s chemical security laws, which are tougher than the national standard, thanks to a provision pushed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Lautenberg, D-N.J., was in Jersey City with state Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson and other officials to trumpet the federal government’s hands-off provision, which was signed recently by President Bush.

“I made a promise in this same spot that I would fight to make sure that states could protect their residents from chemical attacks, and now they can,” said Lautenberg, appearing in a parking lot overlooking the Kuehne chemical plant.

Lautenberg stood in the same spot in 2006 vowing to fight the Bush Administration’s effort to pre-empt New Jersey’s chemical security laws.

“We fought back special interests in Washington and the Bush Administration to preserve the right of states to protect themselves from an attack on their chemical facilities — and we won,” said Lautenberg.

The measure insulates all states from federal pre-emption, and allows them to pass laws protecting their residents from an attack on chemical facilities within their borders.

The co-chairs of the Sept. 11 Commission — former Gov. Tom Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton — joined the National Governors’ Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures in supporting it.

However, the American Chemistry Council, which represents the largest producers of chemicals in the country, strongly opposed the Lautenberg language, which was included in the Homeland Security appropriations bill.

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