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Comments to EPA on Risk Management Program Revisions

The Institute for Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding its proposed revisions to the Risk Management Program (RMP), under Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. EPA’s new proposal will better protect communities from chemical accidents that release toxic air pollution. EPA’s data show that between 2004 to 2020, there were more than 2,400 accidents, amounting to billions of dollars in aggregate monetized costs—and these numbers are a significant underestimate due to underreporting, delayed reporting, and unquantified benefits. Moreover, Clean Air Act Section 112(r) and the underlying regulatory program are intended to reduce worst-case catastrophes which could be orders of magnitude worse than the average monetized, costs of past accidents.

These comments largely focus on how EPA can strengthen its Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), consistent with best economic practices and legal requirements, to improve its consideration of unquantified benefits and the distribution of benefits and costs between fenceline communities and facilities. In particular, EPA should strengthen its breakeven analysis by better considering how risk mitigation measures decrease the magnitude of accidents and avoid the most-costly accidents or catastrophes. EPA should continue to consult with environmental justice groups and the most at-risk communities about strengthening regulatory protections. If, after revising its regulatory impact analysis to address the recommendations in this letter, EPA concludes that a more stringent alternative to the Proposed Rule would be more net beneficial and/or distributionally desirable than the Proposed Rule, EPA should finalize that more stringent alternative through the present or subsequent rulemakings.

EPA should also clarify its new language concerning climate-related hazards and provide complementary guidance to ensure robust consideration of climate-related hazards by RMP facilities.