Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. August 2, 2013.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 113th Congress extended this authority through October 4, 2013. Congressional policymakers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive codification of chemical facility security regulatory provisions. Questions regarding the current law’s effectiveness in reducing chemical facility risk and the sufficiency of federal chemical facility security efforts exacerbate the tension between continuing current policies and changing the statutory authority.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R42918.pdf [PDF format, 45 pages].
Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. May 9, 2013.
The explosion on April 17, 2013, at the West Fertilizer Company fertilizer distribution facility in West, TX, has led to questions about the oversight and regulation of agricultural fertilizer. Facilities holding chemicals must comply with regulations attempting to ensure occupational safety, environmental protection, and homeland security. In addition to federal regulation requiring reporting and planning for ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia, most state and some local governments have laws and regulations regarding the handling of either or both of these chemicals.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R43070.pdf [PDF format, 20 pages].
Environment America Research & Policy Center. Fall 2012.
Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies — hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling — to unlock new supplies of fossil fuels in underground rock formations across the United States. “Fracking” has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of contaminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake. In fact, a growing body of data indicates that fracking is an environmental and public health disaster in the making, the authors claim. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Congressional Research Service. April 4, 2012.
Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to free oil and natural gas trapped underground in lowpermeability rock formations by injecting a fluid under high pressure in order to cause cracks in the formations. The composition of a fracking fluid varies with the nature of the formation, but typically contains mostly water; a proppant to keep the fractures open, such as sand; and a small percentage of chemical additives. Some of these additives may be hazardous to health and the environment. This report provides an overview of current and proposed laws at the state and federal levels that require the disclosure of the chemicals added to the fluid used in hydraulic fracturing.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42461.pdf [PDF format, 21 pages].
Congressional Research Service. April 5, 2012.
This report summarizes the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the major regulatory programs that mandate reporting by industrial facilities of releases of potentially hazardous chemicals to the environment, as well as local planning to respond in the event of significant, accidental releases. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (42 U.S.C. 11001-11050) was enacted in 1986.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32683.pdf [PDF format, 9 pages].