Legislative Update – Congressman Pompeo Introduces General Duty Clause Clarification Act

Last week, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced H.R. 6345, the General Duty Clause Clarification Act. In recent years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increasingly used Clean Air Act Section 112(r)(1), the General Duty Clause (GDC), to cite and fine facilities for violations. Because it has no specific list of chemicals or clear regulatory requirements, the GDC gives EPA tremendous power to require facilities to change their procedures and designs while giving these sites limited recourse to question the agency’s allegations. Congressman Pompeo’s bill seeks to provide companies with greater certainty by requiring EPA to complete a rulemaking process before finding any facility in violation of the GDC; requiring definitions of “extremely hazardous substance,” “appropriate hazard assessment techniques,” and “design and maintain a safe facility” in any GDC regulation; and requiring EPA to issue guidelines to ensure that agency enforcement procedures are uniform across its Regions. The bill would also clarify that EPA’s mission is environmental protection, not homeland security, by prohibiting EPA from regulating chemical facility security under the GDC, reinforcing exclusive jurisdiction under the Department of Homeland Security. NACD joined with 16 other trade associations last week in sending a letter in support of the GDC Clarification Act to all members of the House of Representatives.