On Monday, March 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) further delayed the effective date of the Risk Management Program Final Rule (RMP Final Rule) until June 19, 2017, citing a petition for reconsideration submitted by the "RMP Coalition." This coalition, which includes the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, argued that "numerous procedural flaws" in the rulemaking process prevented an effective public comment period. In its announcement, EPA stated that at least one of the group's objections merited reconsideration, and indicated the Agency would prepare a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow public comment on issues raised in the petition and "any other matter [EPA believes] will benefit from additional comment."

In its petition, the RMP Coalition objects to the rulemaking process, as well as several new provisions in the Final Rule. Specific objections include:

  • New requirements to disclose "relevant" information to Local Emergency Planning Committees would pose significant security risks;
  • Agencies would have a broader and more subjective basis for initiating a third-party audit;
  • Certain necessary cost-benefit information was omitted from the rulemaking record; and
  • A "stealth change" to the scope of compliance audits would require facilities to evaluate all covered processes, rather than a sample of covered processes, every three years.

The coalition also argued that EPA should "reconsider the entire focus" of the Final Rule in light of the determination that the West, Texas incident was an intentional act of arson. The RMP rulemaking, as well as efforts by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to revise the Process Safety Management standard, are the result of Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Safety and Security, issued by President Obama in the wake of that incident.

According to the EPA's announcement, the Agency will continue to post documents and information to Docket-EPA-HQ-OEM-2015-0725, available at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OEM-2015-0725.