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Security, safety top priorities in overturning midnight regulation

by Congressman Markwayne Mullin and Senator Jim Inhofe

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Washington, March 9, 2017 | comments
The Hill

The Obama administration left behind a regulatory environment costing our taxpayers a staggering $1.89 trillion each year and costing businesses forced to comply with these regulations over 580 million hours of paperwork per year. What’s worse is that regulations thought to improve safety and efficiency have in fact done the opposite.

Just days before President Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rushed through midnight revisions to its risk management plan (RMP) program with minimal industry feedback and even less concern for the security of our nation’s chemical facilities. What we’re left with is a risk management plan that trades safety for paperwork and burdens chemical facility operations while also endangering our national security.
 
The “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs under the Clean Air Act,” better known as the EPA’s RMP rule, has rendered the long-running, successful RMP program totally moot. This is why we’re urging Congress to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn this harmful rule and leave the previous RMP regulations — the true foundation for continued reduction in accidental chemical releases — in place.

Currently, Obama’s midnight regulation mandates chemical facilities publicly release sensitive information to anybody that asks, essentially handing a road map over to anyone wishing to do these facilities harm. Our chemical facilities and our communities are without question more vulnerable and more likely to be targeted as a direct result of this rule. The current administration has made national security a top priority, and blocking this rule follows suit, keeping our communities, facilities and first responders safe.

Facilities have been operating under the original risk management program successfully for more than two decades. The program is accepted as the industry standard and has led to a quantifiable increase in safety, as the number of reported accidents at RMP facilities has decreased 60 percent. The CRA resolution we have introduced stops the overreach put forward by the Obama administration in January in order to prioritize continued safety.

When it comes down to it, the EPA’s RMP rule is nothing more than a federal power grab allowing the EPA to overstep its jurisdictional limits and enforce rules on businesses far outside of its wheelhouse. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with enhancing security and preventing terrorism, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for the safety and well-being of working men and women. This regulation enables the EPA to operate outside of its lane, while also ignoring concerns agencies have had that the information the rule requires to be made public “could be exploited by terrorists.”

If Congress doesn’t act, this rule will go into effect on March 21, 2017, and countless chemical factories will be susceptible to terrorist threats, burdened with paperwork and overloaded with increased operating costs.
 

With widespread support among businesses, industry professionals and concerned citizens, we urge our colleagues in the House and Senate to act swiftly to overturn the EPA’s RMP rule. As members of Congress, it’s our job to advocate for our constituents, and the RMP rule is a detriment to thousands of businesses and employees across the nation. Repealing this rule is a common-sense step to protecting all of our communities and citizens from harm. 

Mullin is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He introduced H.J.Res.59 in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 1, 2017. Inhofe is member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. He introduced the Senate companion, S.J.Res.28, to the U.S. Senate on March 2, 2017. 


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