EPA Announces Public Listening Sessions on the Risk Management Plan Rule
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two upcoming virtual public listening sessions on the Agency’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule. The RMP rule has been identified as an action for review under Executive Order 13990: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis. The listening sessions will give interested people the opportunity to present information, and provide comments or views pertaining to revisions made to the RMP rule since 2017.
The Agency’s RMP rule protects the health of Americans, their communities, and the environment by requiring certain industrial facilities to prevent accidental air releases of dangerous chemicals that could cause deaths, injuries, property and environmental damage, or require evacuations in surrounding communities. This rule is critical piece of EPA’s work to address environmental justice issues as these facilities are often located in communities that have historically borne a disproportionate burden from pollution.
“These listening sessions are a first step in considering improvements to the RMP rule, so EPA can better address the impacts of climate change on facility safety and protect communities from chemical accidents, especially vulnerable and overburdened communities living near RMP facilities,” said Carlton Waterhouse, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “Today, we are inviting all communities and stakeholders to share their perspectives to better inform EPA’s review of the existing regulation.”
Virtual public listening sessions will be held on:
- June 16, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. eastern time.
- July 8, 2021, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. eastern time.
Those interested in speaking can sign up for a 3-minute speaking slot on EPA’s website at:
Members of the public are also encouraged to submit written comments via the docket at: http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OLEM-2021-0312 until July 15, 2021. Written comments may be submitted independent of attendance or statements at either public listening session.
To foster continued coordination between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and EPA, OSHA will also participate in the listening sessions and receive comments on their Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, which contains similar requirements to the RMP rule.
Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments requires EPA to publish regulations and guidance for chemical accident prevention at facilities that use certain hazardous substances. These regulations and guidance are contained in the RMP rule, which requires facilities using extremely hazardous substances to develop a Risk Management Plan that:
- identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident,
- identifies steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident, and
- spells out emergency response procedures should an accident occur.
These plans provide valuable information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community. Making RMPs available to the public also fosters communication and awareness to improve accident prevention and emergency response practices at the local level.
In 2013, Executive Order 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security was issued following several catastrophic chemical facility incidents in the United States. The EO directed EPA and several other federal agencies to modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities. The 2017 RMP Amendments Final Rule were issued in response to this executive order. In 2019, the Final RMP Reconsideration Rule rescinded some accident prevention measures in the 2017 rule.
For more information on the public listening sessions: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/forms/virtual-public-listening-sessions-risk-management-program-rule.
For more information on EPA’s RMP regulations: https://www.epa.gov/rmp
For more information on OSHA’s PSM standard: https://www.osha.gov/process-safety-management