Reinstating CFATS vital to protecting Kentucky communities, national security

by Craig Williams

As citizens of Madison County know firsthand, safeguarding our community from potential environmental threats requires vigilance, partnership and perseverance.

The milestone achievement of safely completing the destruction of 523 tons of deadly chemical agents at the Blue Grass Army Depot this fall was the culmination of decades of grassroots advocacy and federal, state and local collaboration. And Central Kentucky is now a much safer place because of it.

However, there is another looming danger now on the horizon that poses a risk to our safety here and across America. This past summer, Congress allowed the bipartisan Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program to expire — leaving a significant gap in our nation’s security framework.

CFATS plays an instrumental role in bolstering the security of facilities handling hazardous materials. These materials, crucial to various industries, are the lifeblood of our nation’s infrastructure. However, chemical facilities, often situated near populated areas, present an attractive target for our enemies who seek to inflict harm.

An attack on such a facility not only poses an immediate threat to the lives of citizens but also has the potential to cause extensive property damage and long-term environmental harm. The implications of such an attack are far-reaching and can have lasting repercussions for our nation’s security.

CFATS goes beyond being a mere regulatory framework; it serves as an effective program for identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities at these facilities. It equips us with the necessary tools to fortify these locations against both physical and cyber threats, ensuring that high-risk chemical facilities implement essential security measures and, in turn, safeguard our critical infrastructure.

The reinstatement of CFATS sends a clear message that we are unwavering in our commitment to protect our citizens, our critical infrastructure, and our national security. Congress must reinstate CFATS as soon as possible to protect the safety and well-being of our nation.

Working together, Kentuckians can once again lead the way in protecting our natural environment and ensuring a safer, more secure future for our communities and the citizens who call them home.

Craig Williams serves as program director for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation in Berea. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious national Goldman Environmental Prize for successfully convincing the Pentagon to halt incineration plans at four major chemical weapons stockpiles, including the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond.

Craig Williams