AGs sue EPA over delay in chemical accident safety rule

"Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree", Schneiderman said in a statement.

The states argue the EPA's delay exceeds the agency's Clean Air Act authority.

Almost a dozen states sued the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday for delaying safety regulations on chemical accidents, sparked by a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer storage plant in 2013.

Schneiderman spoke about the EPA's delay of the rules and said that it is "simply outrageous to block these common sense protections".

According to the EPA, there have been more than 1,517 accidents at the nation's chemical plants over the last decade, leaving 58 dead and more than 17,000 injured.

In addition to Schneiderman, attorneys general from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington also signed on the suit. As a result, around 500,000 people were forced to either evacuate buildings or shelter in place, while more than $2 billion in damage was done to property.

The rule, finalized by Obama administration regulators in January, was inspired in part by a 2013 explosion at a chemical plant in Texas killed 15 people.

The rules that were delayed by Pruitt required updated risk management plan regulations, including additional safeguards in accident prevention programs and a "root cause" analysis with third-party audits after an accident. It would require plants to better prepare for accidents and give the EPA more regulatory and oversight power over the facilities. The over 200 facilities located in NY include facilities such as Amrex Chemical (Binghamton), Arch Chemicals (Rochester), Durez Corp. (Niagara Falls), FMC Industrial Chemicals (Tonawanda), MPM Silicones (Waterford), International Paper (Ticonderoga), JCI Jones Chemicals (Warwick), Momentive Specialty Chemicals (South Glens Falls), PVS Chemical Solutions (Buffalo), Surpass Chemical (Albany), and Twin Lakes Chemical (Lockport). Facilities were provided one year from the effective date to comply with the emergency response procedures, and four years to implement the accident prevention program and public information disclosure requirements. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt subsequently granted these requests and delayed the rule's effective date for 90 days.

With the rules set to go into effect on March 14 this year, Pruitt delayed the measures by an additional 20 months - pushing back the implementation date until at least February 20, 2019. "Even after receiving thousands of public comments, including those from individuals from low-income communities and communities of color that face the greatest risks from RMP facilities urging the EPA to enforce the rule as planned, the EPA sided with industry and went forward with its decision to delay".

Pruitt's directive delays the rule from being put in place until at least June 20, 2019.

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