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Comments on EPA’s Proposal to Further Delay the Amendments to the Risk Management Program

We recently submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to delay the effective date of EPA’s amendments to the Risk Management Program for twenty more months and to put off the compliance deadlines indefinitely. The original rule was issued under section 112®(7)(A) of the Clean Air Act and updated chemical accident prevention rules at manufacturing plants, after a fatal explosion at a fertilizer plant in West Texas.

In our comments, we explain that EPA is required to give a “cogent” explanation for the proposed delay, but the proposal does not satisfy that requirement. First, EPA asserted authority under section 307 of the Clean Air Act to reconsider and stay the rule. But EPA did not state which issues met the criteria for reconsideration. Second, EPA failed to explain whether—or even if—the costs of implementing the Risk Management Rule outweigh the substantial and important benefits of the rule for the period of this postponement.

We also explain that this delay violates section 307, because EPA is only authorized to delay the effective date of the rule for three months under that section. In addition, the proposed delay is procedurally improper. EPA already delayed the rule’s effective date two times without public comment. But EPA had no excuse for the failure to seek public comment then. EPA’s attempt now to take public comment on this further postponement cannot cure EPA’s failure to seek public comment on the first delay. For these reasons, we explain that EPA should lift the illegal stay and reinstate the Rule’s effective date of March 14, 2017.