By: Celerah Hewes, Project Manager for Campaigns, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: September 27, 2022
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0174
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Celerah Hewes, and I am a Project Manager for Moms Clean Air Force living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I work directly with numerous communities and parents around the country who are located near chemical and petrochemical facilities, and I am here today to support the proposed EPA Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention (SCCAP) rule.
Moms Clean Air Force is hopeful that strengthening the Risk Management Program will better protect the health and safety of families living near chemical and petrochemical facilities. Nearly 200 million Americans live near Risk Management Program Facilities, and many of these are in areas that are seeing increasing impacts from climate change, such as coastal flooding, inland flooding, wildfires, and storm surge. In fact, a recent report from the US Government Accountability Office found that “about 31% of these facilities are located in areas with certain natural hazards—like wildfires and storm surges—that may be worsened by climate change.” EPA needs to require Risk Management Program facilities to incorporate climate and natural disaster risks into their plans and have plans.
Last year, HollyFrontier’s Navajo Refinery in Artesia, New Mexico, was found to be one of the top-emitting refineries of the cancer-causing carcinogen benzyne. While we know that exposure to harmful chemicals poses a health risk to all people, this is especially true for children, whose bodies are still developing. EPA must ensure that it is doing everything possible to protect children vulnerable to the impacts of these facilities, and it is vital that EPA address the cumulative health impacts from multiple polluting facilities in an updated and strengthened Risk Management Program rule.
While it is EPA’s responsibility to regulate chemical and petrochemical facilities appropriately to ensure preventative accidents don’t occur, it is also important that there is a mechanism for corrective action when they do. This means requiring frequent and independent facility inspections while expanding the number of facilities covered under the program, ensuring that facilities have an emergency preparedness and community communication plan in place, and ensuring that information about Risk Management Program facilities readily available and accessible to the public.
The threat of chemical disasters is still a real and present danger for many communities across the country. Families living near these facilities deserve to know that EPA is doing its job and protecting their communities from the health and safety risks of chemical and petrochemical facilities.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak today in favor of the proposed EPA Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention rule.