EPA Finalizes Risk Management Program Reconsideration Rule

EPA Finalizes Risk Management Program Reconsideration Rule

The USEPA has released its final rule on Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. In adopting these regulations, USEPA eliminated some of the proposed regulations which were burdensome, unnecessary, and costly, concerning safer technologies, alternative analysis, third party audits, and facility chemical hazard information regulatory requirements. Elimination of these provisions will save industry tens of millions of dollars while having no adverse impact on safety. According to the Agricultural Retailers Association, these changes “promote better emergency planning and public information about accidents while resulting in significant cost savings for RMP-regulated facilities.” KARA previously submitted comments on the proposed RMP rule, and are in agreement with the final version of the regulation.

See the full news release below:

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Risk Management Program (RMP) Reconsideration final rule, which modifies and improves the existing rule to remove burdensome, costly, unnecessary amendments while maintaining appropriate protections and ensuring first responders have access to all of the necessary safety information. This rule also resolves important security concerns. With this action, under President Trump, EPA has finalized 48 deregulatory actions, which the agency projects have saved Americans more than $5 billion in regulatory costs.

“Under the Trump Administration, EPA is listening to our first responders and homeland security experts. Today’s final action addresses emergency responders’ longstanding concerns and maintains important public safety measures while saving Americans roughly $88 million per year,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Accident prevention is a top priority of the EPA and this rule promotes improved coordination between chemical facilities and emergency responders, reduces unnecessary regulatory burdens, and addresses security risks associated with previous amendments to the RMP rule.”

“The National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) represents members and staff of State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs), Tribal Emergency Response Commissions (TERCs), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), various federal agencies, and private industry. Our membership is pleased with the Trump Administration and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s finalized changes to the 2017 RMP rule, specifically with respect to its provisions impacting emergency planning and response. This includes final modifications to overly complex exercise requirements that placed resources burdens on LEPCs without recognizing these arbitrary requirements provided little or no benefit to community emergency preparedness or accident prevention,” said NASTTPO Past-President and Board Member Tim Gablehouse. “We also appreciate that the final rule maintains critical access for first responders to necessary facility information that will result in improved local emergency response planning and public safety.”

EPA’s final RMP reconsideration rule maintains important public safety measures. Under this final rule, no less safety information will be available to first responders and state and federal regulators than was available under any previous version of the RMP rule. Today’s action directly addresses the concerns of local emergency responders and other federal agencies including the U.S. Small Business Administration that were originally raised during the rulemaking of the 2017 RMP Amendments.

The revisions in this rule, based on a careful analysis of over a decade of data, are designed to drive effective emergency planning and continue to support the long-term trend of fewer significant chemical accidents – a trend that has continued since the original rule was finalized in 1996. The rule: reduces unnecessary and ineffective regulatory burdens on facilities and emergency responders (many of whom in rural areas are volunteers); harmonizes rather than conflicts with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Process Safety Management standard; and saves Americans roughly $88 million a year.

During interagency review of the proposed RMP Amendments, which included the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and U.S. Department of Justice, among other agencies, EPA received a comment warning that the open-ended information disclosure provisions to allow anonymous access to sensitive chemical facility hazard information “could assist terrorists in selecting targets and/or increase the severity of an attack.” These security concerns were reiterated during the interagency review of the proposed RMP Reconsideration rule last year. Today’s final rule ensures that appropriate protections for this type of information are in place.

From 2007-2016, at least 90% of RMP facilities had no reported accidents and nearly half of accidents occurred at less than 2% of facilities reporting multiple releases. EPA is focusing on high-risk facilities and vigorously enforcing the original RMP rule. Today’s final rule maintains important public safety requirements without imposing substantial new regulatory requirements on all facilities in the RMP program. EPA believes this approach will effectively address the very small percentage of facilities that need increased supervision to improve their performance. In fact, accident rates in states that had adopted burdensome elements in the RMP Amendments rule show less decline in accident rates than RMP facilities nationwide under the original rule. Thus, there was little data supporting the claimed benefits of the RMP Amendments. Ultimately, this rule reduces the costs of compliance with unnecessary regulatory requirements and makes reasonable, practicable updates to improve the effectiveness of the rule.

“Today’s announcement ensures safety remains a top concern while simultaneously returning control to our local communities, reducing duplicative and over burdensome regulations, and maintaining national security protections for RMP facilities across Missouri,” said U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler (MO-04). “I am pleased to hear the Trump Administration has followed through on promises made to save taxpayer dollars while ensuring commonsense, streamlined measures drive our federal agencies.”

For more information on the proposed RMP Reconsideration Rule, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/proposed-risk-management-program-rmp-reconsideration-rule.

The Clean Air Act mandates that EPA require Risk Management Plans for facilities storing specific chemicals above threshold amounts and develop risk management programs to prevent and mitigate accidents that could release those chemicals into the environment.

EPA published its first Risk Management Plan regulation in 1996. In 2017, EPA finalized a new regulation mandating new requirements and disclosure of additional public information. Following the finalization of this rule, EPA received and granted three petitions to reconsider the 2017 RMP regulations, including a petition from 11 states: Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Currently, EPA regulates approximately 12,500 RMP facilities throughout the country such as agricultural supply distributors, water and wastewater treatment facilities, chemical manufacturers and distributors, food and beverage manufacturers, chemical warehouses, oil refineries, and other chemical facilities.
For history about the RMP Amendments Rule, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/final-amendments-risk-management-program-rmp-rule.