Trump EPA Sued for Blocking Chemical-Accident Rule

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 25, 2017

In January, the EPA finalized the new rule that "seek to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources".

That didn't happen, but EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt - who previously filed multiple lawsuits against the agency he now runs, and who has long-running ties to the oil industry - did grant an initial 90-day delay on the rule's starting date, even though the regulation has a built-in one-year grace period before affected companies are required to comply with the emergency response procedures, and a four-year period for complying with the new accident prevention and public disclosure requirements.

"Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree", said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is leading the challenge.

"EPA's changes", the fact sheet read, "will help protect local first responders, community members and employees from death or injury due to chemical facility accidents". "Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve", Schneiderman said.

According to the EPA, there have been more than 1,517 accidents at the nation's chemical plants over the last decade, leaving 58 dead and more than 17,000 injured.

The amended rules updated the risk-management plan detailed in amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990, to put additional safeguards in place such as requiring root-cause analyses and third-party audits following accidents.

Attorneys General Schneiderman and Balderas are joined in the suit by the AGs from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Nationally, these accidents caused 58 deaths; 17,099 people to be injured or seek medical treatment; nearly 500,000 people to be evacuated or sheltered-in-place; and over $2 billion in property damage. The over 200 facilities located in NY include facilities such as Amrex Chemical (Binghamton), Arch Chemicals (Rochester), Durez Corp. After a 2013 explosion at a chemical plant in Texas, which killed 15 people, officials moved forward to overhaul chemical safety standards. The new Accidental Release Prevention Requirements were supposed to be enacted on March 14, The Hill reported.

In February, after the confirmation of Pruitt to head the EPA, chemical companies wrote a letter to him saying that the rule would create "significant security concerns and compliance issues that will cause irreparable harm", according to The Hill.

The EPA chief defended the decision in a statement.

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