Nessel sues Trump admin for rolling back chemical spill safety measures

    President Donald Trump speaks to 5000 contractors at the Shell Chemicals Petrochemical Complex on August 13, 2019 in Monaca, Pennsylvania. | Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

    Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for gutting safeguards to prevent and limit injuries and deaths from dangerous chemical accidents.

    Nessel joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general and the city of Philadelphia on Wednesday to challenge the Trump EPA’s rollback of former President Obama-era amendments to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations, referred to as the Chemical Disaster Rule. 

    Dana Nessel | Ken Coleman

    This regulation added protections to better safeguard against explosions, fires, poisonous gas releases and other accidents at facilities that store and use toxic chemicals.   

    “As public officials working in government, a top priority should always be the safety of our residents,” Nessel said. “The Environmental Protection Agency’s actions, in this case, unfortunately put our residents in harm’s way. Accidents can happen and they’re not always avoidable, but removing these safeguards provide even fewer assurances that people won’t be hurt or killed from unavoidable incidents.”

    The EPA finalized this rule in December, which included eliminating independent third-party audits and “root cause” analyses following accidents, as well as preventative analyses of safer technology and alternatives.

    The EPA also cut training requirements and requirements for facilities to share information with first responders and nearby communities about hazardous chemicals used onsite. 

    The coalition’s petition was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    The filing also includes attorneys general of New York, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and the city of Philadelphia. 

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.