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EPA Plans to Weaken Chemical-Plant Safety Rules

WASHINGTON—Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans May 17 to rescind chemical-safety regulations established by the Obama administration after 15 people were killed in a 2013 explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. The proposal would delay or eliminate rules mandating stricter emergency-preparedness requirements, outside audits of companies’ risk-management plans, and independent investigations of accidents. Pruitt said that would “reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens” and “save Americans roughly $88 million a year.” Several chemical and energy industry groups had asked the EPA to reconsider the regulations. “The Obama Administration would have imposed significant new costs on industry without identifying or quantifying the safety benefits to be achieved,” National Association of Chemical Distributors President Eric Byer said in the EPA press release announcing the proposal. “USW members work in dangerous facilities that house huge quantities of hazardous chemicals,” the United Steelworkers responded in a statement. “We are strongly opposed to this deregulation that endangers workers and their communities.” A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for June 14, about halfway through the 60-day period for public comment. Read more

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