Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Sam Pearson
EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt avoided specific answers to questions about tougher regulatory policies for high-risk chemical facilities, according to documents released by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s top Democrat Jan. 25.
But industry groups continue to battle against a pending Environmental Protection Agency rule for safety information sharing.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the panel’s ranking member, asked Pruitt if “the burden should be on a chemical facility operator to show that the design and operation of the facility is as safe as possible to protect workers and the public from explosions, fires and other releases of toxic chemicals.”
A related EPA rulemaking to place new information sharing and safety auditing requirements on certain chemical facilities (RIN:2050-AG82) has drawn sharp opposition from Pruitt, industry groups and Republican lawmakers, who have called for its withdrawal.
Carper’s question appeared to be referring to an inherently-safer technology mandate, a proposal favored by some advocacy groups that would require high-risk facilities to evaluate their processes, identify ways to improve safety and shift to those methods if possible.
Pruitt responded, “I believe that every American should be provided safe home and work environments and people who live or work in and around chemical facilities are no exception to that.”
Asked if chemical companies should take actions to prevent explosions and fires when feasible measures exist, Pruitt said companies “should take actions to prevent explosions and fires as well as other safety incidents.” But he declined to specify what actions companies should take under under what circumstances they should do so.
Even for safer technologies or chemicals that are feasible for plants to switch to, Pruitt wrote, companies should consider if the changes “improve safety in one area but shift risks to create new and potentially more serious concerns,” Pruitt wrote.
Industry groups—with Pruitt’s support—are also pressuring congressional leaders to rescind the EPA regulation through the Congressional Review Act. In a letter Jan. 25, 21 industry groups including the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Chemistry Council, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute and others urged lawmakers to cancel the rule.
The rule “not only imposes significant new costs without identifying or quantifying the safety benefits that will be achieved through these new requirements, it may actually compromise the security of our facilities, emergency responders and our communities,” said the letter, which was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The regulation has already been targeted on a list released by the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has said he expects it to be blocked.
The letter added the current regulations already promote safety “and will continue to drive continuous safety improvements.”
In proposing the rule last month, Mathy Stanislaus, then the EPA’s assistant administrator for land and emergency management, noted that more than 1,500 accidents were reported at facilities in the program in the past 10 years, “causing nearly 60 deaths.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Pearson in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
The industry groups' letter is available at http://src.bna.com/lIr.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)