EPA Proposes Burdensome and Unnecessary Chemical Safety Rules | Citizens Against Government Waste

EPA Proposes Burdensome and Unnecessary Chemical Safety Rules

The WasteWatcher

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Risk Management Program (RMP) following the enactment of the 1990 Clean Air Act.   Any facility that uses extremely hazardous chemicals must establish a risk management plan.  Every five years, the plans must be revised and resubmitted to the EPA, and the agency inspects the facilities to make sure they comply with the regulations.  

The EPA’s current standards have been effective at maintaining safety measures.  The agency’s review of RMP accidents between 2004-2020 revealed that there was a 67 percent decrease of incidents from 1998 to 2016 and since 1996, there have been no incidents at 76 percent of RMP chemical manufacturing facilities.  A Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) analysis of EPA data concluded  that only 8 percent of RMP-regulated facilities were responsible for all reportable incidents over a 10-year span.  Rather than fully focusing its enforcement resources on the facilities that are causing the problems, without expanding them for those that are in compliance, the proposed rule, which is moving forward with insufficient notice to stakeholders, would not only unduly burden all RMP facilities with unnecessary expenses and paperwork, but also upend a successful program without any significant benefits.    

The proposed rule would impact businesses that work with propane, ammonia, chlorine, and other chemicals by imposing additional requirements for employees, making more information available to the public, adding more third party audits, creating future emergency response planning, and other burdensome regulations, all of which would cost more than $77 million per year.  Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, which would burden already compliant businesses with further regulation, and waste taxpayer dollars through increased reporting requirements and oversight, the EPA should continue implementing current RMP requirements and work with industry leaders to continue its success and build on the existing private-public partnerships.  The haste in which this regulation is being pushed through is cause for concern.     

On November 10, 2022, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan raising significant concerns over the proposed rule, including that the proposal could jeopardize as much as half of the United States’ refining capacity.  

They wrote that the proposed rule, “will do little to nothing to improve workplace safety but instead drastically raise fuel costs raise fuel costs—contrary to President Biden’s promise to ‘use every tool’ at the Administration’s disposal to lower the price of gasoline for the average American.”  They suggested that an “update to the RMP must be supported by a strong data and evidence, rather than driven by ideology.  It must also not compromise safety nor adversely impact US energy and economic security.  We are concerned that the EPA’s economic justifications for its policy choices, particularly its focus on HF alkylation, departs from the actual cost of alternative technology replacements.  The Agency may be either unable or unwilling to understand the real cost of its proposal to RMP regulated entities.”  

The ranking members also noted that with “record inflation, we can ill afford misguided policies that will only add to the pain American families are feeling.  Given the widespread negative impacts of this proposal, particularly on the domestic oil and gas industry, we request:   

· Reopen the public comment period for another 60-days to allow for additional input, including from experts in the refining and occupational safety fields; and   

· That your agency provide our staffs with a briefing on how EPA plans to avoid risk tradeoffs that make Americans less safe and economically secure.”  

 Citizens Against Government Waste agrees with the serious concerns raised over the EPA’s swift effort to revamp the RMP. Because of the technical and regulatory impact of these new proposed rules, EPA’s 60-day comment period is insufficient.    

As with many regulations, EPA is creating a solution in search of a problem and implementing these new rules without further consideration will waste taxpayer dollars and hurt American business. Instead, the EPA should work on strengthening its public private partnerships and continue the current success of the RMP to further its effectiveness rather than undermining and unnecessarily expanding the scope of the program.  Businesses in the chemical industry, like others, are battling near-record high inflation, licensing, taxation, and burdensome regulation.  Any proposal to increase these barriers for business should be proven to be necessary.   


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