ACA Submits Comments on EPA’s Proposal to Further Delay RMP Final Rule
May 23, 2017 •
ACA submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 19, in support of the agency’s proposed rule to further delay the effective date of the Risk Management Program (RMP) final rule amendments until February 2019. ACA stated that delay of the effective date until February 2019 will give EPA sufficient time to properly reconsider the RMP amendments and determine an appropriate course of action, as well as offer stakeholders additional time to provide further feedback or comment on the issues under reconsideration. These comments reiterated ACA’s stance provided in testimony at an April 19 EPA hearing on the proposed delay.
ACA underscored that during this proposed delay, the existing RMP regulations will remain in place, and noted that the already robust RMP requirements have resulted in a steady decline in reportable accidental releases over the past 20 years. From 2004 to 2013, EPA data show that there were roughly 12,500 facilities subject to RMP. During that 10-year span, 92 percent of these facilities had no RMP reportable accidents. This decline in reportable accidental chemical releases is expected to continue under the existing RMP regulations.
On March 29, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule to delay the effective date of RMP final rule amendments to Feb.19, 2019. This action followed a series of prior delays issued by the White House and EPA in January and mid-March. In January, the White House issued a memorandum implementing a freeze on federal regulations pending further administrative review. RMP was one of the regulations subject to the regulatory freeze, and the effective date was subsequently delayed until March 21, 2017. However, on March 16, EPA Administrator Pruitt issued a final rule that provided for a further three-month administrative stay of the effective date until June 19, 2017.
The final RMP rule amendments have encountered extreme resistance since EPA first issued them in mid-January. EPA stated that the amendments made to the final rule were aimed at modernizing RMP by (1) making changes to the accident prevention program requirements, (2) enhancing the emergency response and preparedness requirements, and (3) modifying the information availability requirements. However, numerous industry members and trade associations have continued to push back against implementation of these amendments.
ACA believes that the RMP amendments do not appear to enhance chemical safety. Rather, they seem to create and impose significant administrative burdens and high compliance costs without commensurate benefits in safety. ACA maintains that the amendments also lack a sufficient cost-benefit analysis in some new, major provisions. For example, the costs of the third-party compliance audits and the safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) outweigh the benefits that they may have in safety to the public or the environment. In addition, ACA asserts that the RMP final rule amendments raise national security concerns because of the mandate on companies to provide sensitive chemical and operational information to the public upon request.
In March, ACA and 20 other trade associations signed onto a coalition petition to Congressional leaders urging them to utilize the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block implementation of the final RMP amendments rule. ACA and the other trade associations maintained that the final RMP rule not only imposes significant new costs without identifying or quantifying the safety benefits that will be achieved through these new requirements; but that it may compromise the security of facilities, emergency responders, and communities. Moreover, ACA and the other trade associations underscored that the current RMP regulations are not in need of revision because they include requirements that have produced and will continue to drive continuous safety improvements and already provide robust protection for our employees and the public.
Because of this coalition effort, Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2) introduced H.J.Res.59 on Feb. 1, that would allow RMP to be overturned in Congress if the CRA joint resolution of disapproval passes in both the House and Senate. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is the Senate sponsor of this CRA joint resolution. Industry members and trade associations are continuing their lobbying effort in D.C. to try and push this joint resolution through Congress.
Contact ACA’s Rhett Cash for more information.