Chairs Rodgers and Johnson Urge EPA to Stop Targeting American Manufacturers with its Repeated Regulatory Overreach
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) sent the following letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan demanding that the agency go back to the drawing board on its proposed risk management regulations given the detrimental impact the current proposal would have on American manufacturing and jobs.
- On August 31, 2022, the EPA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register entitled “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs Under the Clean Air Act; Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention” or “RMP Proposal.”
- This proposed RMP mandate would require manufacturers to publicly disclose information on vulnerabilities and extremely hazardous substances, which could be exploited to attack the facility or undermine the ability of the local community to respond to an attack.
- The proposal also expands the EPA’s involvement in private companies’ facility operations and labor relations practices, something Congress has repeatedly rejected.
- The Chairs expressed these and other serious concerns with the RMP proposal and the process by which it was developed, a process that lacked transparency and accountability to the public. They urged Administrator Regan to withdraw and repropose the proposed rule.
We write to you to express our concerns with the EPA proposal and the process used to develop it, and we urge you to withdraw and repropose this rule.
As part of the rulemaking process, EPA should select only those requirements that make significant, cost-effective safety improvements, and not impractical and ineffective mandates, which are ideologically-driven.
Before finalizing any further changes to the RMP program, we urge the EPA to repropose the RMP rulemaking to align it with existing law and to solicit more information from the public, in part based on the issues identified in this letter.
Chairs Rodgers and Johnson asked Administrator Regan to provide answers to the following questions by February 1, 2024:
- The RMP Proposal seems to suggest the mere occurrence of any accident is a justification for regulation. Is the EPA’s intention to promote plant designs that eliminate not just “human factors” but also those that are beyond any person’s control? Can such a facility containing Appendix A chemicals even operate if such assumptions are the purpose of the program’s rules?
- RMP rules need to be “reasonable” and “practicable.” Yet, the RMP Proposal did not evaluate the costs of many of its provisions, including the proposed natural hazards and proposed gap analysis requirements for Process Hazard Analyses. In fact, the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis states that the EPA “has no data or empirical estimates of the precise impact of each rule provision on the probability and magnitude of an accident, or on improved efficiency due to better information.” How does the EPA believe it is complying with the statutory directive on reasonableness when the EPA’s proposal does not demonstrate that the EPA understands what a reasonable universe might include? Is the EPA’s failure to conduct a fulsome cost-benefit analysis for the RMP Proposal a sign that the EPA sees RMP as a zero-risk program?
- On October 5, 2023, the American Water Works Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIORA) to discuss this rulemaking, In a memorandum reiterating points made by those associations to OIRA, it states: “EPA states the total cost of the rule has increased by $181.4 million (up from $75.8M to $257.2M) and the total cost for State/Local entities (which includes drinking water and wastewater utilities) is now $18.9M, but as proposed was less than $5M.“ On October 5, 2023, the American Water Works Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to discuss this rulemaking. If this is the case, the EPA — after its truncated public comment period closed — greatly expanded the scope of new regulatory requirements beyond the $75 million annual cost included in its initial proposed rule and without giving the public a basis for the updated cost analysis. Does the EPA now estimate the annual cost of the RMP Proposal to exceed $75 million? If yes, how much is the current estimate? What is the reason for the increase in the cost estimate? Will the EPA publicly notice and meaningfully reopen the comment period to allow interested parties a chance to examine and provide expert feedback on these changes?
- Please detail all conversations and coordination the EPA has had with OSHA on the RMP Proposal and the intersection between RMP and OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) program, including any efforts to prevent duplication and overlap between RMP and PSM programs. What efforts were undertaken to identify and avoid redundancy or conflicts between provisions in the RMP Proposal and existing laws administered and enforced by the EPA or other Federal departments or agencies?
- Regarding the protection of sensitive facility and materials information that could be used to destroy a facility and community or disrupt emergency responses to such an event: Please identify those provisions that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice believe satisfy their decades-long-concern about inappropriate sharing of sensitive facility information. Please state whether any other law enforcement, defense, or intelligence agency raised concerns about the information disclosure provisions in the RMP Proposal. If the EPA believes currently operating facilities should use a STAA, why are the facilities in just a few sectors of the economy required to use a STAA?
- Under the Emergency Planning and Community Response Act, local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) —are responsible for developing community response plans. The RMP Proposal appears to make RMP facilities responsible for the content of the community response plan. How does every RMP facility “ensure” the contents of a response plan if the facility is not a part or the majority on the LEPC? Is the RMP Proposal contravening local decision-making and resources, with this proposed requirement?
- The “retail facility” definition for RMP and PSM has been in place for many years and is well understood by the industry. The RMP Proposal, though, proposes to amend the current RMP rule definition of “retail facility” and to add the requirement that “more than one-half of the annual income (in the previous calendar year) is obtained from direct sales.” Please state the justification to support claims of “uncertainty” that necessitate the proposed change.
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.