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Contributor:

L. Vance Taylor

L. Vance Taylor has worked to advance the mission of homeland security on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. One of only approximately 250 people in the nation with a Master’s degree in Homeland Security, Mr. Taylor combines specialized educational training with real-world experience to leverage successful outcomes for clients and stakeholders.

Mr. Taylor’s large network and personal ties with members and staff from the House of Representatives and the Senate enables the facilitation of a partnership-type framework between clients and lawmakers. Under this framework, partners work together to find and create balanced solutions to security whereby well-intentioned legislators and proactive industries collaborate together to further national protection.

Prior to joining Catalyst Partners, Mr. Taylor worked at the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) where he handled security-related policy issues affecting the drinking water and wastewater sector. Mr. Taylor applied his expertise in the area of critical infrastructure protection to advance the security posture of the nation’s largest water utilities by supporting the Water Sector Coordinating Council, serving as a Subject Matter Expert to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, working as a partner to EPA’s Water Security Division, and facilitating security policy for the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC).

While at AMWA, Mr. Taylor also participated on teams responsible for drafting the drinking water and wastewater Sector-Specific Plan, developing RAMCAP-compatible vulnerability assessments for water utilities, and refining DHS’ Tier I & II Criteria for water.

Before working in the water sector, Mr. Taylor worked as an aide for two members of the House of Representatives; Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-01) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-16). While on Capitol Hill, Mr. Taylor provided advice and recommendations to members on such issues as homeland security, immigration, and grants.

Mr. Taylor is an accomplished public speaker and enjoys strong volunteer relationships with the Boy Scouts of America and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Water in West Virginia – An Ounce of Prevention…

Last Thursday, a chemical storage tank leaked about 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River, just one mile upstream from the West Virginia American Water plant. Thankfully, the water plant owner was forward thinking enough to invest in preparedness before an immediate need arose. This undoubtedly helped the plant respond to the chemical leak. Something tells me there’s a lesson there.

Risk in Full Disclosure – Chlorine Locations Posted

Last week, the Center for Effective Government (CEG) posted online a comprehensive list of how much chlorine water utilities have onsite and provided the specific coordinates of where they are stored. This information, while already available in the public domain, has never before been put on a single website because it could more easily give bad actors information to use for nefarious purposes. Here are a few questions for the CEG.

Facing Water Shutdown, Major Utility Gets it Right

On Monday night, the Washington Sanitation and Suburban Commission (WSSC) announced that in order to do emergency repair work on a major main, it would be shutting down water service to roughly 150,000 people for a period of several days. Unfortunately, instead of celebrating this as a victory and recognizing how well WSSC handled this situation from top to bottom, there are those who are choosing to find ways to blame the utility for causing public alarm.

Amid Controversy and Scandal, Missing the Real Security Issues

Today’s political climate feels more like a twisted three-ring circus of controversy than an environment aimed at resolving (or even addressing) our nation’s true challenges. This puts our national security at risk, obscuring a focus on, for example, the miserable state of our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

Security for Critical Water Infrastructure – How About Some Help for the Little Guy

In an era of diminished budgets and vanishing security grants, a recent break in at the Carters Lake Water Treatment Plant in Georgia highlights how the federal government is leaving small water systems, and the communities they serve, hanging in the wind. I’m not suggesting DHS throw obscene amounts of money at rural water systems, but I would argue that these systems can make major strides with small amounts of money.

The Politics of Fear – Is a Cyber Attack Really Imminent?

National security leaders like Leon Panetta, Janet Napolitano and even President Obama have been telling members of Congress and the country that unless immediate action is taken, the United States will suffer cyber attacks guaranteed to shut down our power, communication, financial and water infrastructure sectors. Well, I’m not buying it. The politics of fear is a D.C. classic.

Water and Chemical Security – Whitman Got it Wrong

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an editorial by Christine Todd Whitman, titled “The Chemical Threat to America.” In the op-ed, the author calls on the Administration to expand and implement chemical security regulations in the water sector as a means to protect America. She advocates that the federal government should be able to mandate chemical processes and force water systems to use so-called Inherently Safer Technologies. Ms. Whitman is smart and capable, but on this issue she is wrong, wrong, wrong.

In the World of Cyber Security, It's Go Time

Once again, America is officially under attack. According to multiple reports, including an “incident response” report from the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), U.S. natural gas pipeline companies are at the center of a major cyber attack campaign. While I’m certain that some in Congress will use this latest cyber attack campaign as fodder to further their cyber security legislation, I do not believe we can legislate our way out of this problem.

EPA – Proving How "Small" Government Can Be

The EPA was set to disregard the counsel of the Department of Justice, water system owners/operators and security experts by posting the non-Off-site Consequence Analysis (non-OCA) sections of the water sector’s RMPs this summer. Amid industry outcry, the EPA changed course and decided to postpone re-establishing public Internet access for certain highly security sensitive categories of information collected by its Risk Management Plan (RMP) Program. Irwin Fletcher said, “It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. I am NOT a big man.” Such is the case with the EPA.