When the White House changes from one occupant to another, there are policies that often change with them. The present administration is no exception. Trump and his team have moved to change many rules and regulations. One of the many changes the administration intends to make are changes in the laws that govern the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). New staffers at EPA have announced they are going to block previous regulations that were in place under Obama. The new proposals, many fear, will allow the administration to shield many of today’s most important industries and companies from what many feel is highly necessary scrutiny about how they act to help provide EPA chemical-disaster protections and offer additional public protections. Many people believe the decision to end such rules will directly threaten their lives and their communities. They are not happy that the present day administration has taken such steps.
The Specific Regulations
There are several rules in regards to EPA chemical-disaster protections that have argued about since the Obama administration. These rules state that all companies must disclose which particular hazardous chemicals they use during the course of their operations. The regulations also require that companies must be willing share this information with those in charge of planning for emergencies as well as agree to let agencies audit their records. In addition, such companies must agree to provide the public with access to reports indicating why a given leak occurred. Such rules were actually supposed to be in place as of March 2017. However, groups that represent industries affected such as the chemical and petroleum industries mounted a highly vocal protest. They demanded that the EPA avoid putting such regulations in place until further hearings could be conducted. Under the new administration, nearly all of these requirements have been removed and will no longer be in place.
While the new rules have apparently been brushed aside by this administration, this decision is in place as of yet. The public is being given the opportunity to comment. Many who live near chemical plants are understandably upset. They are very concerned about safety in their communities. They are also concerned that the present administration and officials at the EPA are not doing enough to protect their communities from chemical spills or to hold companies accountable in the event of such disasters. Many residents of these communities traveled to Washington, D.C. to express their displeasure at a refusal to pass laws they feel will reduce the possibility of dangerous leaks and punish those responsible.
The Industry Responds
In addition to residents of local communities, representatives from the chemical and petroleum industries also traveled to Washington, D.C. They believe that such EPA regulations impose burdens that are not clear on their companies and that such regulations may hamper their ability to function on a day to day basis. In their opinion, there are already many incentives for workers in these industries to maintain the highest possible safety standards. Companies that do not may lose profits. They also point out that only a handful of companies are responsible for the vast majority of such leaks and spills. In their opinion, it is unfair to punish the entire industry for the mistakes of a handful of offenders. They believe that those companies that adhere to existing regulations should not be burdened further with additional compliance rules.
Hearings will continue on this subject for several weeks until the end of July. After that time, the EPA should decide what to do by the end of the year.
Learn more about Hazardous Chemical Lawsuits.