Senators Susan Collins, R-Ma., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., introduced a bill yesterday that proposes stronger government regulation of chemical plant security than a draft proposal issued earlier this year, according to The Associated Press (www.ap.org). The bill, which would allow the Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov) to shut down plants that fail to consistently manage a security plan, will be evaluated by the House Homeland Security Committee this spring.

A key change from the draft proposal of the bill is the removal of a clause that would have prohibited states from enacting stronger security standards than the federal regulation. The plan does not, however, offer provisions that would encourage industry to consider alternative chemical materials that would be less dangerous to the public in an attack or accidental release. This issue has been a primary point of contention between environmentalists and the chemical industry.