The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Emma Cheuse, (202) 745-5220 or

Trump Administration Reveals Plan to Revoke Health & Safety Protections from Chemical Disasters for Millions of Americans

Today, Earthjustice released the following statement from staff attorney Emma Cheuse regarding the Trump Administration's Decision to rescind and weaken the Chemical Disaster Rule:


Today, Earthjustice released the following statement from staff attorney Emma Cheuse regarding the Trump Administration's Decision to rescind and weaken the Chemical Disaster Rule:

Today, Trump's EPA revealed a shocking plan to try to delete all accident prevention program provisions of the Jan. 2017 Chemical Disaster Rule that President Obama's EPA issued to save lives. The original rule is based on robust evidence of harm to workers, first-responders, and fenceline communities. Administrator Pruitt's newest move shows the Trump EPA is aiming to weaken safety measures instead of protecting the lives and health of the American people. EPA's plan to undo the Chemical Disaster Rule makes no sense as 177 million Americans face the constant threat of a chemical disaster, and is nothing more than a blatant attempt to put industry interests ahead of public health. The people whom EPA's plan will hurt the most are people living and working near oil refineries and chemical manufacturers, who face repeated toxic releases and fires like the dozens of serious incidents documented in recent months, and who are disproportionately people of color and low-income people.

Instead of taking away chemical disaster prevention measures at the request of the oil and chemical industry, EPA should be doing its job to protect workers and families from the fires, explosions, and toxic releases that keep happening like clockwork around the U.S., most often in communities whom Administrator Pruitt's plan chooses simply to ignore.


The Chemical Disaster Rule includes much-needed improvements to the EPA's Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP) and would have prevented and reduced the likelihood of chemical disasters, hazardous releases, and resulting chemical exposures, along with strengthening emergency preparedness and coordination with local first responders like firefighters and public health professionals. When developing the rule, the EPA determined that prior protections failed to prevent over 2,200 chemical accidents around the country during a 10-year period, including about 150 per year that caused reportable harm.

In June 2017, the EPA signed a rule to delay the Chemical Disaster Rule which would save lives from the effects of chemical disasters each year. From 2004 to 2013 alone, more than 2,200 chemical accidents were reported at hazardous facilities, over 1,500 of which caused reported harm. These accidents killed 59 people; caused more than more than 17,000 to be injured, hospitalized, or to seek medical care, and nearly half a million to evacuate or shelter in place to try to avoid chemical exposure and other harm; and caused more than $2 billion in property damage. No month passed during the decade EPA studied without at least 8 accidents at or near a chemical facility in the United States. And communities continue to live under the constant threat of a chemical catastrophe.

Earthjustice and a coalition of groups representing workers, scientists and community members near chemical facilities filed suit in the D.C. Circuit Court to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from delaying the rule, and the Court heard oral argument on March 16, 2018.

Earthjustice represents Air Alliance Houston, California Communities Against Toxics, Clean Air Council, Coalition For A Safe Environment, Community In-Power & Development Association, Del Amo Action Committee, Environmental Integrity Project, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. United Steelworkers is represented by Santarella & Eckert, LLC.

Eleven concerned states also challenged the rule.

Read the statement online


Earthjustice, Emma Cheuse, (202) 745-5220 or
United Steelworkers, Anna Fendley, (202) 778-3306 or
Union of Concerned Scientists, Yogin Kothari, 202-331-5665,
Environmental Integrity Project, Tom Pelton, (443) 510-2574
Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter, Neil Carman, (512)288-5772

Coalition For A Safe Environment (Wilmington, CA), Jesse Marquez, (310) 704-1265
Del Amo Action Committee (Torrance, CA), Cynthia Babich, (310) 769-4813
California Communities Against Toxics, Jane Williams, (661) 256-2101

Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Anne Rolfes, (504) 484-3433

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Juan Parras, (281) 513-7799
Community In-Power & Development Association (Port Arthur, TX), Hilton Kelley, (409) 498-1088
Air Alliance Houston, (713) 528-3779, Dr. Bakeyah Nelson

Clean Air Council (Philadelphia, PA), Kathryn Urbanowicz, (215) 567-4004

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, (801) 502-5450, Denni Cawley

West Virginia
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition - Natalie Thompson or Pam Nixon (People Concerned About Chemical Safety): (304) 522-0246

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.