Court: EPA Delay of Improved Chemical Disaster Prevention Measures is “Arbitrary and Capricious”
Washington, D.C. – The D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must immediately carry out improvements to the nation’s Risk Management Plan program (RMP). One organization needing support the Environmental Justice Health Alliance EJHA. ENJA seeking to prevent and mitigate chemical disasters. That’s watching over 12,500 domestic facilities which risk catastrophic explosions or poisonous gas releases.
So improvements to the RMP program have been under consideration for more than four years. They first started initiating by the Obama Administration; after the deadly West, TX disaster. However it stalled when former EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, issuing a 20-month delay.
So in 107_Per Curiam Opinion_08-17-2018, judges determined this delay was “arbitrary and capricious”. As a result they ordered EPA to reverse immediately. Therefore, facilities must comply with the updated RMP program; finalized January 13, 2017.
Most importantly, over 177 million people across America live within the vulnerability zones. That’s where there are RMP facilities. Therefore studies showing communities are disproportionately composed of people of color and low-income families.
A demographic analysis of people living within vulnerability zones, titled Who’s In Danger, found that the percentage of Blacks and Latinos is 75% and 60% greater. Greater than for the average of the U.S.. So the poverty rate near hazardous chemical facilities is 50% higher than the rest of the nation.
Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA), responded to today’s ruling with delight.
EJHA, most noteworthy is watching more than 12,500 facilities are across the nation. In addition, these facilities threaten their neighbors. As well as workers and first-responders. All threatened with catastrophic explosions or poisonous gas releases. As well as the risk of disaster. Which thereby disproportionately borne by people of color and the poor.
Therefore the Trump Administration’s EPA is illegally dragging their feet. Dragging on common-sense disaster prevention rules.
More importantly, it’s about time the court grabbed them by the ear and forced them to do their job. Now, EJHA will watch closely as EPA moves to carry out the provisions ordered by the court. As a result, EJHA will hold fast in opposition to EPA’s ongoing effort to reverse these disaster prevention measures.
Following today’s court order, EPA or industry representatives may petition for a re-hearing en banc, but this is generally considered a long-shot and unlikely to stall enactment of these updates to the RMP program any further. Industry must now comply with the updated program as originally finalized in January 2017. On a separate track, EPA is still considering a reversal of these RMP amendments and is taking public comments on this issue through August 23, 2018.
The Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) organizes industry reform strategies for safer chemicals and clean energy that leave no community or worker behind. Find out more about EJHA here: http://ej4all.org/, Release: August 17, 2018