On August 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to delay the Chemical Disaster Rule (the rule). EPA promulgated the Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Programs under the Clean Air Act (“Chemical Disaster Rule”) on Jan. 13, 2017. The final rule revised dozens of Clean Air Act requirements in three major areas: (1) accident prevention, including expanded post- accident investigations, more rigorous safety audits, safety training, and safer technology requirements; (2) emergency response, including more frequent coordination with local first responders and emergency response committees, and more intensive incident-response exercises; and (3) public information disclosure, including public disclosure of safety information and public-meeting requirements. The final rule set an overall effective date of March 14, 2017, sixty days after promulgation. Some provisions related to clarifying regulatory definitions went into effect on that date. Others, including most local emergency-response coordination requirements, became effective in one year, on March 14,

  1. The requirements for emergency response exercises, public information-sharing and post-accident public meetings, third- party audits, more rigorous post-incident analyses, and safer technology requirements became effective three years later, on March 15, 2021. The compliance deadline for covered facilities to submit an updated risk management plan (RMP) was March 14, 2022.

Following a change in presidential administration, EPA delayed the effective date of the final Chemical Disaster Rule three times. The Court held that “EPA has not engaged in reasoned decision making” and was therefore “arbitrary and capricious.” The court ordered the EPA to allow the rule to remain until the agency amends its requirements by standard regulatory action.

Trump’s deregulatory agenda has pushed at least 26 environmental regulations issued during the Obama administration out of the queue. Some have been revoked completely, while others are in the process of being replaced by far less stringent rules.