Attorney General Drummond keeps his word about challenging the EPA

When Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond went before a House committee hearing this week, he indicated he would not back off his challenges with what he suggested was the EPA’s burdensome rules and regulations.

Drummond didn’t wait long to show Congress and the EPA he meant business as he is leading a 14-state coalition in filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a petition for review against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The petition challenges the EPA’s final rule amending its Risk Management Program (RMP) under the Clean Air Act. The rule places onerous accident prevention program requirements on certain facilities that hold more than a threshold quantity of certain regulated substances. The industries that will be adversely impacted include agricultural chemical distributors and wholesalers, chemical manufacturers and wholesalers, food and beverage manufacturers, oil and gas extraction operations, petroleum and coal products manufacturers, petroleum wholesalers, water and wastewater utilities and more.

Drummond testified before a U.S. House subcommittee earlier this week about the devastating consequences the rule will have in Oklahoma.

“The amendments to the Risk Management Program are unwarranted and they contain significant security concerns,” he said. “Industries in Oklahoma and the consumers they serve should not be punished because of yet another misguided and overly burdensome edict from the EPA.”

The rule is slated to take effect this week and has received staunch opposition from a range of industry and trade associations, including the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Chemistry Council, American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute, American Petroleum Institute, Alliance of Chemical Distributors, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Corn Refiners Association, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In an April 18 letter to Congressional leaders, a coalition of the aforementioned organizations underscored that the rule will significantly increase costs without clearly demonstrating how safety will be improved.

“For example, EPA finalized new requirements to conduct a safer technology and alternatives assessment (STAA) analysis, even though EPA provided no evidence the change would reduce accidental releases,” the letter states. “EPA estimates that more than 80 percent of the final rule’s $256 million annual cost will come from these STAA provisions alone. Analysis of EPA’s data indicates that over 90 percent of the costs of this rule will fall upon facilities that have not had any RMP-reportable accidents in the past five years.”

Prior comment letters from state attorneys general challenging the rule have noted that it increases regulatory burdens without providing a sufficient return in benefits. By the EPA’s own estimations, the rule will cost more than $250 million annually for businesses to comply, yet the agency has failed to demonstrate how its requirements will reduce the number of chemical accidents or improve safety.

Additionally, the rule’s new information disclosure requirements raise significant national security threats by easing the flow of sensitive information to criminals and terrorists.

The petition for review asks the court to declare the rule unlawful and vacate it.

Also joining Oklahoma in the filing are attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as the Arizona legislature.

Read the petition here. The previous comments letter from attorneys general is available here and the letter from trade associations is available here.

Source: Press Release