Regulatory Update – Groups Petition EPA to Require Inherently Safer Technologies at Chemical Facilities

Last week, a group of more than 50 environmental, health, and labor organizations submitted a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking the agency to begin a rulemaking under Clean Air Act Section 112(r) to require facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals to use inherently safer technologies (IST). This is the latest of many attempts by these organizations to impose IST requirements on chemical facilities through the EPA’s Clean Air Act after having been unsuccessful to date in having these mandates imposed through chemical security legislation or regulations. Earlier actions included a March 14 letter from the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and an April 3 letter from former Bush Administration EPA Administrator Christine Whitman to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and a May letter to President Obama from a Coalition of more than 100 environmental, labor, and health groups. In May, the New York Times also published two editorials in support of these efforts. NACD Chris Jahn responded with a letter published in the May 23 Times issue. “Adding more government oversight through the Clean Air Act General Duty Clause will not improve security and will create overlapping requirements, leading to confusion and bureaucracy, not better security. The focus should remain on making the current law work effectively, not adding another agency and another regulation,” wrote Jahn.