On May 17, 2018, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a regulatory impact analysis requesting comments on proposed changes to the Risk Management Program (RMP) Amendments Rule. The original amendment was published to the Federal Register in January 2017, but after receiving criticism from industry stakeholders, the EPA delayed its implementation until 2019 to allow for further review. The recently published impact analysis, or Reconsideration Rule, is the next step in the EPA's review and provides insight into the likely contents of the revised final rule.

The proposed Reconsideration Rule highlights the following changes from the 2017 Amendments Rule:

  • Eliminating changes requiring third-party compliance audits;
  • Eliminating changes requiring root cause analysis during incident investigations;
  • Eliminating provisions requiring Safer Technologies and Alternatives Analysis (STAA) as part of the process hazard analysis for some Program 3 facilities;
  • Revising the requirements for coordination of emergency response activities by either:
    • Removing the 10-year minimum frequency for field exercises and providing increased flexibility in the scope of field and tabletop exercises (proposed action), or
    • Eliminating the new coordination requirements entirely (alternate action);
  • Eliminating provisions requiring facilities to provide chemical hazard information to the public upon request (proposed action);
    • If the new coordination requirements are retained, facilities may still be required to provide exercise schedules to the public (alternate action).
    • Note that the Risk Management Plan submittals will remain available to the public, as under current regulations.
  • Limiting the information that must be provided to LEPCs to a specific list, removing language requiring facilities to provide "any other information" deemed relevant by the LEPC; and
  • Modifying the language of provisions requiring public meetings after RMP reportable accidents to clarify that only information regarding the most recent accident shall be included.

The Reconsideration Rule does not add any new requirements, but if finalized, it will require facilities to implement several changes issued in the 2017 amendments. New compliance obligations could require facilities to:

  • Coordinate annually with local emergency response organizations (Program 2 and 3);
  • Conduct annual emergency response notification exercises to ensure the facility's emergency contact list is complete, accurate, and up-to-date (Program 2 and 3);
  • Conduct tabletop emergency response exercises every three years and field exercises as necessary (for responding facilities only); and
  • Hold public meetings after RMP-reportable accidents.

In comparison to the currently implemented RMP regulations, EPA estimates the additional requirements of the Reconsideration Rule will increase compliance costs by approximately $18-$46 million per year. This represents an averted cost of $85-$113 million per year as compared to the 2017 amendments. As in the impact analysis for the 2017 Amendment Rule, the EPA qualitatively describes the achieved and forgone benefits of the Reconsideration Rule but does not attempt to quantify these benefits. The EPA concludes the averted costs of the Reconsideration Rule are large enough to justify the forgone benefits.

Despite the recently tumultuous history of revisions to the RMP regulation, the EPA appears ready to finalize and implement the modest changes described in the Reconsideration Rule. The EPA will solicit feedback through a 60-day comment period and will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed rule on June 14, 2018.

For additional information, refer to the EPA's RMP Reconsideration Proposed Rule Fact Sheet or the full text of the proposed RMP Reconsideration Rule.

If you have questions regarding the proposed changes, contact Trinity Consultants at (866) 830-0796.