Key regulatory changes implemented last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regard to ammonia refrigeration may be revisited under the incoming Biden administration, according to an official for the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA).
Those changes pertain to the EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP), a longstanding program that regulates safety protocols in industries using dangerous chemicals, including industrial operators using more than 10,000lbs (4,536kg) of ammonia.
In November 2019, the Trump administration’s EPA announced that it was rescinding nearly all of the significant Obama administration amendments to the RMP, which were considered burdensome and costly to industry. These included all major accident prevention program provisions pertaining to third-party audits, safer technology and alternatives analyses, and incident investigation root cause analysis.
But Lowell Randel, vice president, government and legal affairs for GCCA, said he expects the EPA that will be directed next year by President-Elect Joe Biden to revisit the RMP “and potentially add burdens” to facilities regulated under the program. “A Biden-led EPA could consider actions to reverse the Trump changes to RMP and consider additional revisions to the program,” he said.
In a regulatory update webinar Randel participated in last May for the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), he described the ammonia refrigeration industry’s “significant concerns” about the RMP’s third-party audit amendment, which required audits to be done by an independent entity. But with that provision rescinded, “you don’t have to worry about using someone for consulting and developing safety programs, and have them also do audits,” he said.
OSHA action also foreseen
Randel also expects the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to review its Process Safety Management (PSM) program, which similarly regulates facilities with more than 10,000lbs of ammonia. The Obama Administration had started the rulemaking process to revise the PSM, but was not able to complete that effort.
“The PSM rule is still on OSHA’s long-term regulatory agenda and I expect that the rulemaking will likely be taken off the shelf for action by the Biden Administration,” said Randel.
“The PSM rule is still on OSHA’s long-term regulatory agenda and I expect that the rulemaking will likely be taken off the shelf for action by the Biden Administration.”– Lowell Randel, GCCA