Climate change-fueled weather events pose a tremendous danger to chemical facilities, as hurricanes and flooding can easily lead to the release of toxic substances among communities living nearby.

By Jonathan Sharp, Truthout

Recently, a group of national security and environmental experts, including former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, former Occupational Safety and Health Administration head David Michaels, and retired United States Army Generals Russel Honoré and Randy Manner, wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

chemical plant

They urged the agency to issue stronger and stricter regulations to protect Americans from chemical accidents that may be caused by natural disasters, among other factors. These natural disasters are more and more frequently the result of climate change, which is escalating decade by decade. As a global phenomenon with frightening environmental implications happening right before our very eyes, climate change is primarily the consequence of destructive, reckless human activity such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

On February 2, Kathleen Salyer, director of EPA’s Office of Emergency Management, responded to the experts’ letter, saying the “EPA will consider the points made” and that “the EPA is considering improvements to the rule to better address the impacts of climate change on facility safety and protect communities from chemical accidents, especially vulnerable and overburdened communities living near [risk management plan (RMP)] facilities.”

The RMP rule requires facilities that store hazardous substances to have emergency responses in place in the event of a chemical accident. On May 26, the EPA announced that two virtual public listening sessions will be held on the agency’s RMP rule. These sessions will offer interested people the opportunity to present information and provide comments with regard to the revisions made to the RMP rule since 2017.

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