Thompson bill addresses rail security and safety concerns

Repost from The Vallejo Times-Herald

Thompson bill addresses two important safety concerns

By Times-Herald staff report,

Legislation by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson to improve security at America’s embassies and for rail and refineries passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature, the St. Helena Democrat’s office announced.

H.R. 4681, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, grew partially out of the 2012 terrorist attack out the U.S. Consular facility in Benghazi, Libya, Thompson said.

Studies done since the attack have identified the need for security personnel at U.S. diplomatic posts to receive threat information from the intelligence community in a more timely manner so they can request and receive security enhancements as needed, according to the announcement. Thompson’s legislation will address this need by enhancing information sharing, he said.

“Studies since the Benghazi attack have shown that we need to improve communication between our intelligence community and our diplomatic outposts, and this will make sure that happens,” Thompson said in the announcement.

Thompson’s legislation directs the Director of National Intelligence to provide a status assessment to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of threat information sharing between the intelligence community and diplomatic security personnel, and to propose remedial action to help make sure security personnel at U.S. embassies can request and receive enhanced security in a timely manner.

The same bill also enhances rail and refinery security by requiring the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis to conduct an intelligence assessment of domestic oil refineries and related rail infrastructure security, Thompson’s office said. The assessment’s results are then to be submitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, along with any recommendations for improving those operations’ security. This aims to help officials better protect the communities surrounding refineries and railways from potential harm.

“Public safety is my number one priority and through enhanced reporting we can better know if threats exist and how we can fix them,” Thompson said.“This law will help make sure we’re transporting and holding crude oil and other cargo through and in our communities in a safe manner.”

Many trains transporting crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation run through Thompson’s congressional district. The crude oil from this region is regarded as highly flammable and this legislation will help make sure it’s transported safely, he said.

H.R. 4681 passed the House by a vote of 325-100.