Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
Laws, Regulations & Mandates
Three acts give EPA statutory authority to implement specific homeland security responsibilities:
- Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002
- Homeland Security Act of 2002
- Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006
These acts provide EPA with the authority to carry out activities related to water security and radiological or nuclear incidents. Coupled with EPA’s core mission authorities and Homeland Security Presidential Directives, these acts provide a framework within which EPA can prioritize and implement its homeland security responsibilities.
The Bioterrorism Act requires EPA to perform a number of specific actions related to the security of drinking water systems across the country. The Act:
- Requires community drinking water systems serving populations of more than 3,300 persons to conduct assessments of their vulnerabilities to terrorist attack or other intentional acts and to defend against adversarial actions that might substantially disrupt the ability of a system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water. These water systems must certify and submit a copy of the vulnerability assessments to the EPA Administrator. Within 6 months of completing the vulnerability assessments, community water systems must also certify to EPA that an emergency response plan has been completed or updated.
- Specifically amends the criminal provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act to elevate the penalty provisions for intentional tampering or attempting to tamper with a public water supply. EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training enforces these criminal provisions.
- Provides the legislative mandate for the EPA Office of Research and Development’s water security research.
Read more about the Bioterrorism Act.
The Homeland Security Act grants the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to call certain elements of the Department of Energy and EPA into service as an organizational unit of DHS in support of a nuclear incident response, as part of a “Nuclear Incident Response Team” established by the Act.
While the Act does not provide EPA with any additional response authorities, the Act does provide the DHS Secretary with the authority to place EPA assets that perform nuclear and/or radiological emergency support functions (including accident response, search response, advisory, and technical operations functions) and related functions under the DHS secretary’s operational control in connection with an actual or threatened terrorist attack, major disaster, or other emergency. In the event of a terrorist incident, this Act would authorize EPA to serve as a technical resource for guidance on initial response.
Read the full text of the Homeland Security Act.
Summary in development.