A letter was sent to the White House Monday, April 21, that was signed by 16 trade associations, including the Agricultural Retailers Association, urging the administration to take several specific actions under the Executive Order 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety & Security.” 

The Executive Order Interagency Working Group (IWG) is expected to deliver its final recommendations at the end of May. Those signing the letter have been very engaged with the IWG and offered extensive constructive comments. The letter is intended to highlight three specific actions that those signing think the IWG should focus on when they offer their final report:

1.  Work with industry and others to ensure that emergency responders have the information they need to protect communities where chemicals are stored.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was intended to improve the availability of chemical information to members of the local community and to aid emergency first responders. Unfortunately, it appears the entities and processes it established a quarter-century ago have withered away in a great many states and localities. Charging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revitalize EPCRA presents the most immediate opportunity to improve access to chemical emergency information needed by local emergency responders.

2.  Improve regulatory effectiveness and operational coordination.

A common theme throughout the EO is the need for improved regulatory compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations. This effort should encompass the following:

  • Better operational management and coordination among federal agencies, facilities, and first responders. 
  • Targeted enforcement based on incident data and prioritized inspection schedules.
  • Additional resources and training for inspectors of all federal agencies having regulatory oversight of the chemical industry.

3.  Leverage private sector industry programs.

EO 13650 wisely directs the IWG to explore how private sector initiatives can improve or supplement the federal management of chemical safety and security risks. We agree that increased recognition and leveraging of industry performance improvement programs should be an essential component of enhancing and updating the current federal approach, and we are eager to discuss how this might be accomplished. 

Many of these actions are in line with the recent recommendations/findings that were issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board as well as some of the topics that were discussed during the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.

To read the letter, click here.