States sue EPA over chemical safety rule delay

States sue EPA over chemical safety rule delay
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Eleven states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its June decision to delay implementation of a chemical safety rule.

The state attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman (D), argue the rule is important for “protecting our workers, first-responders and communities from chemical accidents” and should be allowed to take effect as planned by the Obama administration’s EPA.

“The Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

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“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 announced last month that it would delay implementation of its updated “Risk Management Plan” regulation for chemical facilities until 2019.

The rule, finalized by Obama administration regulators in January, was inspired in part by a 2013 explosion at a chemical plant in Texas killed 15 people. It would require plants to better prepare for accidents and give the EPA more regulatory and oversight power over the facilities.

But chemical companies have argued the rule could create security and compliance problems. In delaying the rule last month, the EPA said it needed “additional time to review the program, so that we can fully evaluate the public comments raised by multiple petitioners and consider other issues that may benefit from additional public input.”

The states argue the EPA's delay exceeds the agency's Clean Air Act authority.  

—Updated at 4:09 p.m.