States Sue EPA For Diminishing Chemical Plant Safety Regulations

Fifteen states including Maryland have filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over rollbacks to the Risk Management Program’s regulations. In a document filed Wednesday, the Plaintiffs allege the EPA’s actions violate the Clean Air Act.  

The EPA’s Risk Management Program regulations, referred to as the “Chemical Disaster Rule,” were implemented in 2013 as a response to a deadly explosion at a chemical plant in Texas. Last year the Trump administration rolled back regulations that were designed to help prevent accidents such as toxic gas releases, explosions, and fires by mandating outside audits and certain reporting requirements. In a statement Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James called the Obama-era regulations “critical safeguards.”

From coverage in Reuters:

The states petitioned the federal appeals court in Washington to review an EPA rule finalized in December that rolls back amendments to the agency’s Risk Management Program regulations, known as the Chemical Disaster Rule.

Those amendments, enacted during the administration of President Barack Obama, required plant operators to take steps to reduce the threat of toxic chemicals being released.

The steps included greater use of outside audits, closer analysis of safety technology, and the imposition of stricter emergency preparedness requirements.

Led by New York, the states said the final EPA rule adopted last month lacks many of these protections.

Attorney General Brian Frosh stated in a press release:

“When a business has toxic chemicals onsite, neighbors and emergency responders – police, fire and rescue – ought to know what they are up against. Keeping this information secret endangers lives”