USW Condemns EPA Chief’s Proposal to Revoke Chemical Disaster Regulations

CONTACT: Anna Fendley, (202) 778-3306

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 17) – The United Steelworkers (USW) released the following statement today in response to the proposal by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to rescind regulations — commonly called the “RMP Amendments” or the “Chemical Disaster Rule” — designed to prevent and respond to chemical-related disasters.

“Today, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did the bidding of powerful industry lobbyists by rescinding important requirements to prevent and respond to catastrophic chemical incidents at industrial facilities.

“The EPA Risk Management Program is a crucial tool that the Obama administration rightly decided to modernize after numerous incidents, including the April 2013 explosion in West, Texas, that killed 15 and injured 150, and earlier incidents at USW-represented facilities in Anacortes, Wash., and Richmond, Calif.

“The Obama-era rules contained important worker safety provisions to prevent accidents and save lives. These rules included root cause accident investigation, safer technology assessments and third-party audits. The regulations also required increased coordination and sharing of information with first responders, who are inevitably called in to assist during and after a chemical release or explosion.

“Administrator Pruitt’s deregulatory agenda has led to this proposal to cancel major portions of the Obama-era regulation including all accident prevention program provisions. The proposal also further postpones compliance dates so the remaining requirements will not be fully in place for five years.

“Further delay in protecting workers and communities is unacceptable. Last summer, the EPA delayed implementation of the rule until February 2019. The USW joined community groups and 12 states in a lawsuit challenging that delay, arguing that the court should require the EPA to implement the rule immediately.

“USW members work in dangerous facilities that house huge quantities of hazardous chemicals. We are strongly opposed to this deregulation that endangers workers and their communities. Our union intends to fully participate in the rulemaking process and advocate against these unjustified rollbacks.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.  

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