The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to its Risk Management Program that put more emphasis on climate change and power-loss risks. The changes are the latest in regulatory ping-pong between Democrat and Republican administrations, according to a U.S. law firm.
More than 3,800 Risk Management Program-compliant facilities are in areas at high risk for wildfires, floods, storm surges or coastal flooding, the EPA found. Flooding occurred in more than 90% of counties where there is an RMP facility, while 25% have been hit by hurricanes.
“The RMP proposal is further evidence that the Biden administration will require increasingly granular physical risk assessments at a variety of scales with the aim of enhancing climate resilience,” law firm Vinson & Elkins said in an environmental update on its website.
The changes are an attempt by the Biden administration to reinstate Obama-era requirements reversed by Trump. However, environmentalists have criticized the EPA for not going beyond the Obama administration’s changes, the law firm wrote. Industry groups also said the costs of the proposal’s “misinformed changes” would outweigh their benefits.
“This [current] approach has proven to be very effective in minimizing the risk of accidental chemical releases, a fact supported by EPA data showing that RMP incidents have declined by nearly 75% over the past several decades,” the American Chemistry Council said in a response statement that it shared with Lube Report.
The Risk Management Program aims to prevent chemical facility accidents, a move that will affect industrial facilities that handle regulated chemicals over a threshold that would exempt them from RMP regulations. The list of chemicals includes a host of substances used in the manufacture of lubricants, greases and additives.
Under the new regulations, facilities that manufacture petroleum, coal and chemical products located within 1 mile of another such RMP‑regulated facility with the same processes, must conduct a so-called safer technology and alternatives analysis. Operators would also be obliged to produce on-demand chemical hazard data to communities within 6 miles (9 kilometers) of the facility. Other provisions include enhanced incident investigation rules, and compliance deadlines.