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Booker Leads EPW Dems in Urging EPA Chief to Withdraw Dangerous Modifications to Chemical Facility Safety Rule

Proposed modifications would rollback critical environmental safeguards protecting communities from hazardous chemicals

July 19, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today led his Democratic colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its proposed modifications to an existing federal safeguard that protects communities from hazardous chemicals stored in industrial facilities.

In a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Senators wrote that the EPA’s changes to the Accidental Release Requirements for Risk Management Programs undermined the agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

“This latest proposal to undo the critical safety, transparency, and emergency response requirements proposed by the original rule places thousands of first responders, facility workers, and fenceline communities at risk,” the Senators wrote. “Please withdraw this latest, misguided EPA proposal, and instead move to immediately implement the EPA’s original final amendments to the Risk Management Program.”

Among other provisions, the EPA’s modifications include restricting the public’s access to information about what chemicals are being stored in facilities near them, and eliminating the requirement to complete an incident report within 12 months following an accident at a chemical facility.

The Senators also expressed concern about how this latest move would disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.

“We are extremely disturbed that you chose to move forward with issuing this proposed rule despite the EPA’s finding that ‘there is evidence that risks from RMP facilities fall on minority and low-income populations, to a significantly greater degree than those risks that affect other populations,’” the Senators wrote.

In addition to Booker, the following Senators signed on to the letter:

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)

Senator Shelton Whitehouse (D-RI)

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-WI)

Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Full text of the letter is here.

Today’s letter follows a similar letter Booker led last year to the EPA, after it had announced it was delaying implementation of the Risk Management Program rule.