WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (both D-Del.), joined Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), U.S. Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), and 45 other congressional colleagues in a letter sent Wednesday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan urging the agency to strengthen protections for workers, environmental justice communities, and first responders under its proposed Risk Management Program (RMP) rule.

EPA’s RMP regulates close to 12,000 facilities that make, use, or store hazardous chemicals. Recent chemical disasters have highlighted shortcomings in the existing RMP regulations that fail to sufficiently protect workers and communities living near hazardous chemical facilities.

“We are encouraged by the steps that EPA has taken with this proposed rule toward protecting communities from the danger of chemical disasters, and we urge the agency to further strengthen the rule in several key ways…the updated RMP rule should prioritize hazard reduction and prevention measures, including transitioning to inherently safer chemicals and processes and requiring third-party audits to verify compliance,” wrote the lawmakers. “To further ensure adequate protections for the millions of Americans that live near RMP facilities, the final rule should improve requirements for outreach to inform the public about RMP facility hazards and emergency response plans before and during incidental releases, and require that this information be made available in multiple languages. To foster information access and transparency, EPA should maintain a publicly accessible RMP database and commit to delivering that database on the fastest possible timeline.”

In an April 2022 letter, Carper and Blunt Rochester joined their colleagues in urging the EPA to propose an updated RMP rule with robust prevention and safety standards to prevent chemical disasters. In August 2022, EPA released the proposed RMP rule, which would make significant and needed updates but could include stronger safeguards.

In addition to Carper and Booker, 14 other senators signed onto the letter, including Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

In addition to Blunt Rochester and Barragán, 31 other representatives signed onto the letter, including Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), John Garamenda (D-Calif.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Norton (D-D.C.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Mary Scanlon (D-Penn.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.Mex.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).

Supporters of the letter include BlueGreen Alliance, United Steelworkers, United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, and Coming Clean.

The full text of the letter is available here.