Despite all the hype about guaranteeing “homeland security,” the Bush administration has scrapped plans to impose strict regulations to protect chemical plants from possible terrorist attacks. The decision, which was confirmed yesterday by U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, came after months of administration infighting and heavy lobbying efforts against new rules by the chemical industry. Whitman and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge favored the idea of new regulations, whereas officials in other agencies argued that the EPA would be overstepping its authority by using the Clean Air Act to force chemical plants to identify and resolve serious security breaches in producing and storing hazardous materials. Environmentalists and others fear that plants storing large amounts of chlorine and other toxic chemicals are tempting terrorist targets; at least 30 such facilities are located near heavily populated areas.
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