EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) Facility Safety Rule Delayed Until Feb. 2019

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The effective date of EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) Facility Safety Rule has been delayed from June 19, 2017 to February 19, 2019.  EPA issued a Final Rule on June 9 explaining that the 20-month delay will “allow EPA to conduct a reconsideration proceeding and to consider other issues that may benefit from additional comment.” [1] This delay—and the signal that EPA may be reviewing “other issues” with the original RMP Rule that may not have been affected by the now-delayed amendment—show that Pruitt’s EPA intends to act on its goal of minimizing regulatory burden on industry.

Environmentalists, workers’ rights groups, industry, and others submitted more than 54,000 comments on the 20-month delay rule.  A significant number supported the delay because they oppose the underlying RMP amendment.  Given that opposition, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ determination that the West, TX warehouse explosion was caused by arson and not lackadaisical chemical safety, some aspects of the amendment are clearly on the chopping block.  An obvious one is a public disclosure provision that would require facilities to disclose in certain settings information about the chemicals they store, safety measures in place, and history of accidents.  Another is a provision that would require third-party audits after reportable releases.

In the current political climate, it is difficult to predict what will happen 20 months from now.  As things stand today, the original RMP Rule remains in effect.  Come February 19, 2019, however, there is a fair chance that any new Pruitt RMP amendment not only drops the additional requirements in the now-delayed rule, but also carves back requirements in the underlying RMP Rule.

For additional information regarding this advisory, please contact Bruce Pasfield, Phil Sandick, or any other member of our Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources practice team.

[1] Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act; 83 FR 27133 (June 14, 2017) available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-06-14/pdf/2017-12340.pdf.