Union sues over EPA’s reversal of chemical safety rule

The decision by the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to reverse parts of a chemical safety rule implemented by former President Barack Obama has led to a lawsuit filed by the United Steelworkers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The rule was in response to the 2013 West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people. What angered the Steelworkers union was the EPA’s Risk Management Program that announced in November 2019 it would free companies from mitigation and safety preparation requirements, a move the EPA says will save about $88 million a year.

The rule no longer requires the owners of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial facilities to publicly release data about the chemicals they store on site.

The lawsuit, according to POLITICO’s Morning Energy Report asks the court to implement the Chemical Disaster Rule as the EPA wrote it prior to the Trump administration’s changes. “Eliminating these requirements will allow a profit-hungry industry to police itself while putting workers, first responders and the public at risk,” said USW International President Tom Conway in a statement. Conway added the union is going to court “to protect our members and our communities.”