Reed Smith Client Alerts

On May 18, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a pre-publication version of a proposed rule revising the agency’s Risk Management Program (RMP), which applies to facilities that store and handle highly hazardous materials above a threshold quantity. Originally initiated in response to President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on improving industrial facility safety following an explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, TX, a final rule was issued by EPA updating the RMP with new requirements in early 2017. Now, the agency has issued a proposed update to these revisions that would significantly roll back many of the requirements originally promulgated.

Authors: Benjamin H. Patton Mary M. Balaster

Background

On May 18, 2018, the EPA issued a pre-publication version of a proposed rule revising the agency’s previous amendments to the RMP rule, which is intended to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic incidents resulting from the storage and handling of highly hazardous materials. Originally initiated in response to President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on improving industrial facility safety following an explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, TX, a final rule was issued by EPA updating the RMP with new requirements in early 2017. At the time, the EPA stated that the rule updates “could further protect human health and the environment from chemical hazards through advancement of process safety management based on lessons learned.” 82 Fed. Reg. 4595 (Jan. 13, 2017). The rule was challenged by industry groups and numerous state attorneys general who argued that the revisions were unnecessarily burdensome and could effectively worsen safety and threaten facility security. Following the change in administration, the EPA delayed the effective date of the rule until February 19, 2019, indicating that the agency needed additional time to reconsider the proposed changes. The proposed rule is the result of this reconsideration and includes the following proposed modifications.