(PAINT.ORG) Last month, ACA signed onto a coalition letter to Congressional leaders expressing major concern over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) final rule for Risk Management Programs (RMP). ACA and 20 other trade associations maintain 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 actually compromise the security of facilities, emergency responders, and communities. As such, the trade associations urged Congress to disapprove the final RMP rule under the Congressional Review Act.
In the letter, ACA and the other trade associations underscored that the current RMP regulations include requirements that have produced and will continue to drive continuous safety improvements, provide robust protection for our employees and the public, and are not in need of revision.
EPA issued the final RMP rule in mid-January, stating 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.
A memorandum signed by President Trump last week put a "regulatory freeze" on certain regulations, including RMP. As a result, the rule's new effective date is March 21, 2017.
"Unfortunately, EPA's final RMP rule fails to identify any meaningful safety benefit and may actually increase security risks given the rule's expanded public information disclosure requirements. It is not just industry that has this concern. White House Office of Management and Budget records show that during interagency review the Department of Homeland Security officials, and others, repeatedly raised security concerns with the RMP rule. In fact, one official stated that '[h]aving facilities share this information would be precedent setting — currently the [Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard (CFATS)], [Process Safety Management (PSM)], and [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)] (licensee/permittee) programs do not share this level of detail with the public due to security concerns'…Federal regulations should not make it easier for sensitive information to wind up in the hands of criminals and terrorists."
In general, EPA's RMP program applies to all stationary sources with processes that contain more than a threshold of a regulated substance. The program's elements are intended to prevent accidental releases and reduce the severity of releases that occur. All sources must prepare and submit an RMP to EPA at least every five years. In addition, RMP Program 3 facilities involve processes subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Process Safety Management (PSM) program Standard or are in one of the specified NAICS codes, such as chemical manufacturing. Together, PSM and RMP form the regulatory framework for prevention of catastrophic chemical accidents at fixed facilities.
ACA and its fellow signatories noted that beyond security concerns, it is unclear what, if any, safety benefits the final RMP will provide. "The lack of identifiable and quantifiable benefits stands in stark contrast to the clear costs associated with this rule. Whether it be the requirement of third-party auditor participation that will reduce the pool of qualified auditors, changing well-established audit procedures already designed to maximize safety effectiveness, or imposing ineffective requirements to consider 'inherently safer technology/design,' the final rule includes a litany of costly changes that have not been shown to increase safety."
The associations urged Congressional disapproval in order to protect national security and allow EPA to reconsider what, if any, revisions to the RMP regulations are needed to reduce the risk of an accidental release.