On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), I am urging all Members to vote no on H.R. 2868, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009. While claiming to be an extension of Section 550 of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, H.R. 2868 reinterprets Section 550 in ways never intended by its original authors. H.R. 2868 seeks to publicize national security audits and make them subject to potentially unsubstantiated litigation claims.
Section 2116 of H.R. 2868 allows for any citizen to file a lawsuit against a regulated facility or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enforce compliance with the act no matter what their association with the chemical facility. H.R. 2868, a broad vague initiative, is sure to be exploited by trail lawyers and other interest groups looking to profit from the unrestricted lawsuits the bill permits.
While common in environmental lawsuits, citizen suits are rarely heard on national security grounds. Generally, national security lawsuits are reserved for private citizens who have an expertise in an applicable field, H.R. 2686 makes no distinction between environmental claims and national security ones. Seeing as this bill is sold as a national security measure, the same legal principals should apply.
National security information is inherently sensitive and usually made available to a select few. In order for citizens to file substantiated lawsuits against chemical facilities they need to have complete knowledge of classified information. Lawsuits against the DHS and chemical facilities would force sensitive information into the public realm. Releasing classified, and potentially dangerous, documents to the public, is irresponsible and unnecessarily puts chemical facilities at risk.
Should private citizens be allowed to sue over something they know little about, companies and the DHS will spend untold amounts of time in court fighting potentially endless claims. Taxpayer’s dollars will be spent defending the DHS and chemical facilities shareholders will watch as trial lawyers try to suck money from their companies.
Americans for Tax Reform MAY RATE H.R. 2868 vote in our annual Congressional Scorecard. For more information, please contact Brian Johnson in my office at [email protected] or 202.785.0266.
Grover G. Norquist
cc: All Members of the U.S. House of Representatives