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The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released modified standards regarding the storage of dangerous chemicals.
Proponents of the change say the new standards will improve public safety, while opponents argue that the revisions “undo critical safety measures” put into place under the Obama Administration in response to a 2013 chemical fertilizer explosion that killed more than a dozen people in Texas.
The Risk Management Program Reconsideration Rule, as the new standard is known, removes the requirement that companies publicly disclose the chemicals stored on their grounds, rescinds third-party audits and incident investigation root cause analysis mandates and modifies emergency planning and response requirements.
The revisions in this rule are designed to drive effective emergency planning by reducing “unnecessary and ineffective regulatory burdens” on emergency responders and will save Americans $88 million per year, said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a news release.
In 2017, the EPA finalized its RMP rule, which mandated new emergency planning requirements and disclosure of additional public information of the approximately 12,500 agricultural supply distributors, water and wastewater treatment facilities, chemical manufacturers and distributors, food and beverage manufacturers, chemical warehouses, oil refineries, and other chemical facilities overseen by the agency. Filing petitions to reconsider the 2017 regulations were 11 states: Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky.
The agency also said that retaining the “open-ended information disclosure provisions” from 2017 could allow terrorists access to sensitive chemical facility hazard information.
On Nov. 15, a group of lawmakers led by Pennsylvania Democratic Sens. Mary Gay Scanlon and Lisa Blunt Rochester sent a letter urging Mr. Wheeler to withdraw the RMP reconsideration rule, the change, arguing that the rollback of the safety measures “runs directly counter to the environmental Protection Agency’s stated mission of protecting human health” and “willfully” disregards the mission of regulating polluters and protecting American people.
(Reuters) — A massive fire at a fuels storage company along the Houston Ship Channel may burn for two more days, an official said on Monday as the blaze spread a plume of black smoke across the city, shutting schools in two nearby communities.