The federal government is spending extraordinary amounts of money and time protecting air travel from terrorist attacks. But Congress has not yet passed a law to secure the nation’s chemical plants, even though an attack on just one plant could kill or injure as many as 100,000 people. The sticking point has been the chemical industry, a heavy contributor to political campaigns, which does not want to pay the cost of reasonable safety measures.
The Senate and the House spent many months carefully developing bipartisan chemical plant security bills. Both measures were far too weak, but they would have finally imposed real safety requirements on the chemical industry. The Republican leadership in Congress blocked both bills from moving forward. Instead, whatever gets done about chemical plant security will apparently be decided behind closed doors, and inserted as a rider to a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.