Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Daily News: Eleven States Level Lawsuit Against EPA for Delaying Rule that Would Protect Communities from Chemical Accidents”

July 25, 2017

As published by The New York Daily News, on July 24, 2017.

A group of 11 states attorneys general filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for delaying a rule designed to protect against chemical accidents.

The suit says the EPA illegally blocked a rule put in place in January by the outgoing Obama administration that was designed to protect local communities and first responders against explosions, fires, poisonous gas releases and other accidents a facilities across the country that store and use toxic chemicals.

There are 200 such facilities in New York.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the coalition that brought the action, called it “simply outrageous to block these common sense protections.”

“Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree,” Schneiderman said. “Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve.”

In addition to Schneiderman, attorneys general from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington also signed on the suit.

Citing EPA statistics, the AGs say there have been over 1,500 accidents nationally at chemical plants, including 30 in New York, over the past decade that have resulted in 58 deaths and 17,099 people who were either injured or sought medical treatment.

In addition, 500,000 people had to be evacuated or sheltered in place while the property damage costs exceeded $2 billion.

The new rules that were supposed to be in place by this past March 14 would require updated risk management plan regulations, including additional safeguards in accident prevention programs and requiring “root cause” analyses and third-party audits following accidents.

The AGs say that after heavy lobbying from the oil and gas and chemical industry, the Trump administration has delayed the rule from going into effect until Feb. 19, 2019.