"Chemical Security Advocates See New Opening to Rework Bush-Era Rules"

"Since its Deepwater Horizon rig went up in flames nearly two months ago, BP PLC has seen its relationship with the White House steadily deteriorate. But in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when industry groups were beginning what remains a vocal pushback against Democratic chemical security proposals, the beleaguered oil company found a much more hospitable audience in the George W. Bush administration.

When Michael Graff, then-chairman of BP's American chemicals division, wrote Bush adviser Karl Rove in October 2002 to blast U.S. EPA's plan to take the lead on guarding against a potential terrorist assault on chemical facilities, he called for an industry-driven process routed through the Department of Homeland Security. 'We have a similar set of concerns' about the prospects of EPA involvement in chemical security oversight, Rove replied, promising to pass on BP's concerns to others.

Industry won that early clash over EPA's role, as the agency's effort got axed before the plan was released. But the intense scrutiny of BP and other oil companies' preference for self-regulation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is giving advocates for stronger chemical security rules a new opening to warn that the private sector cannot prepare for disastrous events -- whether deliberate or accidental -- without a harder nudge from the government."

Elana Schor reports for Greenwire June 16, 2010.

 

Thursday, June 17, 2010