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Obama DHS Caves In To Big Labor, Kills Chemical Plant Security Plan

August 2, 2012
Irene Garcia, Judicial Watch
Source …..

In a staggering move, the Obama Administration has caved in to the demands of big labor, quietly abandoning a crucial plan to secure the nation’s vulnerable chemical plants from terrorists.

It’s a story unlikely to appear in the mainstream media though it concerns every U.S. resident, especially those living near the 300-plus chemical plants in large population centers. In all, there are around 15,000 plants in the U.S. that store, produce or process toxic chemicals that could wipe out chunks of a major city.

After the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks, security experts determined that the facilities were extremely susceptible to terrorism since all it takes is the release of a cloud of toxic fumes to cause serious damage. This inspired the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a plan to screen employees at chemical plants for potential ties to terrorism as well as individuals who enter the facility on business.

The measure required companies to submit the names, birth place, passport or visa information of all workers and visitors with access to restricted areas of their plants. DHS would then check the data against the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database. Sounds simple enough and well worth it to protect the country. So why hasn’t it been implemented, more than a decade after the worst terrorist attack in history?

Labor unions and other politically-connected groups like the chemical industry association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pressured the Obama Administration to kill the measure, according to a news website that covers government. They claim the checks could invade workers’ privacy and that the names of innocent employees likely would appear on the terrorist watch list. This argument is similar to the one used by the open borders movement to get rid of a federal database that allows employers to check workers’ immigration status.

Like the open borders lobby, these groups assert this would constitute discrimination. In fact, in an April 2012 letter to the DHS official in charge of the new regulation, the groups play the race card in strongly urging the security checks get nixed. The letter cites “disparate impact under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” when an employer uses information obtained during applicant and employee background checks.

This leaves us with a loaded question asked by the web site the broke the story; how will the DHS move forward with the task of implementing its struggling chemical security program?  Don’t hold your breath for an answer. The agency refused to provide an explanation for why it had withdrawn its original plan to screen people with access to dangerous facilities.  It’s likely the administration doesn’t even have a backup plan.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2012 10:51 pm

    The chemical industry was even more vociferous in their opposition to the plan for vetting personnel at high-risk chemical facilities against the Terrorist Screening Database. In fact the only people who were interested in supporting the plan were the bureaucrats that wanted to track, on an ongoing basis everyone, anyone that had access to those plants.

  2. August 2, 2012 5:32 pm

    On March 29, 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to examine environmental racism complaints of Mossville, Louisiana, saying that U.S. courts and federal agencies have not provided a remedy for the toxic pollution in the community from fourteen nearby chemical plants. The IACHR determined that the town would have no reasonable prospect of success in U.S. courts on their claims regarding an alleged disproportionate discriminatory pollution burden, in part because the federal government is largely immune from these kind of tort claims. A citizen’s group, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, petitioned the IACHR to take up the complaint in March 2005. The petitioners alleged that Mossville residents suffered health problems caused by toxic pollution released from the chemical plants and that, despite scientific evidence supporting these claims, no remedy had been provided. According to the petition, 91 percent of Mossville’s residents have at least one health problem associated with exposure to industrial pollutants, including nervous system failures, cardiovascular complications and skin disorders. The federal government argued that the IACHR did not have the authority to request the precautionary measures of relief sought because the petition sets forth standards well beyond those set in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The federal government also contended that domestic remedies had not been exhausted and that U.S. was not a party to the American Convention on Human Rights, rendering an action of this kind of IACHR unenforceable. The IACHR’s decision to hear the case launches a three-month period where the U.S. and the petitioners can submit additional arguments and documentation. The ruling is available at .

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