EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has granted a request by chemical manufacturers to delay implementation of a federal rule that would improve safety at their plants—what could be a first step to repealing the safety rule entirely. The EPA’s rule came in response to the 2013 tragedy in West, Texas, when a fertilizer plant explosion claimed the lives of 15 workers. Between 2004 and 2013, 1,500 such incidents at chemical facilities injured more than 17,000 and killed 58. Altogether, they cost $2 billion in property damages. After a three-year stakeholder process and extensive public input, the EPA put forward the Risk Management Program Rule, which took steps to prevent similar accidents that could cause the release of toxic chemicals. The final rule included measures to improve emergency coordination, identify the root causes of accidents at facilities, and look for opportunities to remove hazards—all sensible safety measures with broad support from Americans across the political spectrum. In fact, a 2015 poll showed that 79 percent of likely voters supported such safety measures. But inexplicably and inexcusably, Pruitt is bowing to industry to make chemical plants less safe.
Skip carousel items
ExplainerUnited StatesBrian Palmer
The incoming head of the EPA believes states should be in charge of their own environmental regulations. Been there, done that, got the oil-soaked T-shirt.