As the Arkema chemical plant in Texas burns, you might be surprised to learn that this could have been prevented — or mitigated — thanks to what's known as the "Chemical Disaster Rule," a protocol for preventing and responding to incidents like these developed by the EPA under President Obama.
This rule would have tightened requirements for safety planning, required coordination with local agencies in advance of storms like this one, and required that companies disclose information like details on on-site materials to members of the public.
The rule was suspended by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The Trump Administration has repeatedly demonstrated hostility to environmental and other regulations, and this was among many rules delayed, weakened, or targeted for revocation across multiple federal agencies.
Moreover, Pruitt received pressure from chemical industry lobbyists to suspend the rule on the grounds that it would interfere with their business. Now, that delay is interfering with people's lives. Scott Pruitt and the EPA need to reinstate this rule immediately in the interest of public health and safety, to ensure that facilities like this one meet modern standards of safety.
This protects workers, surrounding communities, and corporations themselves — the cleanup at Arkema will be expensive, and the delays from taking this and other overwhelmed facilities offline during the hurricane will also add up. Scott Pruitt: Do the right thing and uphold the EPA's mandate to protect communities and the environment. Reinstate the Chemical Disaster Rule.Photo credit: Texas National Guard