API Standard Earns DHS Certification Under 9-11 Anti-Terrorism Act
Posted November 24, 2020
The world changed on 9-11, mine and yours.
I was a newlywed, my wife Jill and I having married just three days before. I was a young agriculture policy staffer for then-House Education Committee chairman and future House Speaker John Boehner. We were looking at a big week on the Hill.
CNN was on the office television, and we all thought reports of the first plane strike at the World Trade Center in New York City was some kind of accident. We watched live as the second plane hit, confused and thinking that maybe it was replay of the first one. Before we knew it, the Capitol was being evacuated. That afternoon, as I drove home with Jill, we could see smoke rising over the Pentagon.
You’re probably like me. The vivid memories of that day make it hard to believe it happened two whole decades ago. We know now what we may have only sensed then – that 9-11 was an historic pivot point for the United States in terms of our economy, security and the way we approach life.
As president and CEO of the nation’s largest trade association representing the natural gas and oil industry, I’m reminded that 9-11 really helped galvanize our country’s focus on the security of our nation’s infrastructure to harden it against any future acts of terrorism, from our airlines to our supply chains to our energy grid. Natural gas and oil keep America running. After 9-11 we innovated and developed technologies to dramatically increase domestic production and become less dependent on foreign oil. We haven’t looked back; today, the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of the world’s more important energy sources.
9-11 is a big part of the reason that our industry’s approach to assessing risk shifted to a higher gear, to protect our facilities and networks against threats of terrorism – adding risk assessment to API’s body of work on standards that govern the way we operate.
This has been noticed at the highest levels of our government. Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), certified API’s security risk assessment standard, API 780, as an anti-terrorism technology – extending important liability protections to those who use our standard, proactively supporting safety and security at natural gas and oil facilities.
API 780 details the recommended approach for assessing security risk and managing it, covering terrorism and other potential issues ranging from theft to insider sabotage. The DHS designation means that API members and others who use API 780 would have important protections in the event of a terrorist attack on their facilities.
The DHS designation was recently awarded to API under the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002, which was passed by Congress to incentivize anti-terrorism methods and technologies after 9-11. API 780 now will be listed on the exclusive DHS Approved Products List for Homeland Security, offering value to companies using the risk methodology.
The designation comes as our industry addresses potential security threats by collaborating with federal officials to better coordinate industry’s actions. The DHS certification was granted at a time when the threat to energy infrastructure posed by physical and cyberattacks is a concern, especially in parts of the world where our members operate that are roiled by armed conflict.
The memories of 9-11 are layered, often jagged and timelessly instructive. We’re proud of the work our industry does to empower the nation’s progress, as well as the care we’ve taken to protect those gains against those who would do us harm – reflected in the DHS certification of API 780.
About The Author
Mike Sommers is the 15th chief executive of API since its founding more than a century ago. Prior to coming to API, Mike led the American Investment Council, a trade association representing many of the nation’s leading private equity and growth capital firms and other business partners. He spent two decades in critical staff leadership positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House, including chief of staff for then-House Speaker John Boehner. Mike is a native of Naperville, Illinois, and a graduate of the honors program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Mike and Jill Sommers, a former commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, have three children and live in Alexandria, Virginia.