This year, Lungren became chairman of a key anti-terrorism subcommittee that oversees the nation’s infrastructure and technology security. Tasked with protecting vulnerable chemical manufacturing plants from a terrorist attack, Lungren’s main legislative accomplishment has been the shepherding of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) through committee. However, many are arguing that the bill is laden with loopholes for the chemical industry. Large-scale chemical companies, like Koch Industries, have lobbied against expensive requirements to use less dangerous chemicals and to let the Department of Homeland Security set certain safety standards. Lungren’s bill, as critics have detailed, extends reckless loopholes for chemical companies while exempting many water treatment plants from post-9/11 safety rules.
As Homeland Security officials have warned for years, an explosion at a chemical plant remains one of the most lethal terrorism risks for the nation. A Center for American Progress report, Chemical Security 101, details the dangers posed by unsecured chemical facilities across the nation. Notably, there is at least one chemical plant within proximity of Lungren’s district:
— The General Chemical Bay Point Works in Pittsburg, California is a chemical manufacturing facility produces high purity electronic grade hydrofluoric acid (concentration 49% to 70%) for use in semiconductor and silicon manufacturing industries. An explosion or attack at this plant would endanger the lives of up to 3 million people in the Sacramento and Bay Area.
Lungren led House Homeland Security Committee Republicans in voting to kill amendments that would have closed security loopholes and required safer chemicals at the General Chemical Bay Point plant near his district.
Though he promised to return to Congress to keep the country safe from terrorism, Lungren’s primary accomplishment is a giveaway to chemical companies more interested in short-term profit than protecting the lives of Americans.