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11 States Sue EPA Over Delay of Chemical Safety Rules
By Andrea Germanos
Eleven states filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its chief, Scott Pruitt, in federal court on Monday over the agency's decision to postpone implementation of a rule aimed at lessening the risk of a chemical plant disaster such as the deadly one that rocked West, Texas in 2013.
"Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree. Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve," said New York Attorney General Schneiderman, who's leading the lawsuit.
Noting that EPA itself said there have been more than 1,500 accidents at chemical plants over the past decade resulting in 58 deaths, Schneiderman said, "It's simply outrageous to block these common sense protections—and attorneys general will keep fighting back when our communities are put at risk."
The EPA said in June it was again delaying implementation of the Risk Management Program Amendments, setting an effective date of Feb. 19, 2019. The states said that the EPA rule delay is arbitrary and capricious, and exceeds the agency's authority under the Clean Air Act.
The Obama-era rule, a press statement from Schneiderman's office states,
would necessitate additional safeguards in accident prevention programs to protect communities and prevent future accidents—requiring "root cause" analyses and third-party audits following accidents, as well as analyses of safer technology and alternatives; emergency response procedures, mandating annual coordination with local first responders, annual notification drills, and periodic field exercises; and increased public access to facility chemical hazard information, in addition to public meetings within 90 days of an incident. In fact, despite Administrator Pruitt's delay of the rule, the Trump EPA published a June 2017 fact sheet explaining how these improvements "will help protect local first responders, community members, and employees from death or injury due to the chemical facility accidents.
The delay of the rules, noted Genna Reed at the Union of Concerned Scientists, "came after several petitions from the American Chemistry Council and a handful of other chemical manufacturing corporations, oil and gas companies, and trade organizations asked the agency to reconsider the rule. 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 [Risk Management Program] facilities urging the EPA to enforce the rule as planned, the EPA sided with industry and went forward with its decision to delay."
"President Trump's illegal safety rollback puts our first responders and local communities in danger from chemical accidents," said New Mexico Attorney General Balderas, vowing continued legal action against Trump when he "puts our children, families, and whole communities at risk."
Attorneys General Schneiderman and Balderas are joined in the suit by the AGs from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Turrentine
First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Inslee's 'Evergreen Economy Plan' Calls for $9 Trillion Investment in New Green Jobs, Would Help Fossil Fuel Workers Transition
By Julia Conley
A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.