Friday, May 1, 2020

HR 6527 Introduced – EPCRA Release Meetings

Earlier this month Rep Blunt-Rochester (D,DE) introduced HR 6527, the Alerting Localities of Environmental Risks and Threats Act of 2020. The bill would amend the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 to require companies to hold public meetings after reportable releases and annual meetings about inventories of reportable substances.

Post Incident Meetings

Section 2(a) would amend 42 USC 11004(b) to add provisions requiring the holding of a public meeting for chemical releases that require reporting under §11004(a). A public notice for the meeting would be required to be published within 72 hours of the covered release providing 24-hour notice of the meeting. At the meeting the owner/operator would be required to discuss the information reportable under §11004(b)(2) subject to the trade secrets limitations set forth in §11042.

Annual Meetings

Section 2(b) would amend EPCRA by adding a new § 306, Annual Public Meeting. The new section would require each EPCRA covered facility to conduct an annual public meeting. The meeting would be required to provide information on {new §306(2)}:

• The chemical name of each substance on the list published under section 302(a) [42 USC 11002(a)] that was present at such facility, in an amount in excess of the threshold planning quantity established for such substance under such section, at any time in the preceding calendar year [see 40 CFR 355 Appendix A];
• An estimate of the maximum amount of each such substance present at such facility during the preceding calendar year; and
• The details of the methods and procedures to be followed to respond to a release of such a substance pursuant to the applicable emergency plan prepared under section 303(c) [42 USC 11003(c)].’’

The requirement to hold these annual meetings would be enforceable under 42 USC 110045(c)(1).

Moving Forward

Blunt-Rochester is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that this bill could be considered in Committee. While there would be no Republican support for this bill, if it were considered, it would be approved. Since the bill would not receive bipartisan support as offered, the House would not take up the bill under the suspension of the rules process. It is unlikely that the full House would take up this bill under regular order.


I think that this bill might receive some Republican support if the provisions for the annual meetings were removed. It would probably not be enough for the bill to be considered under the suspension of the rules process so this would not be enough to see the bill move forward.

I understand the reason for the annual meeting requirement in the bill and I think that some form of such a meeting would be an excellent idea. There is an interesting problem with the way this requirement is crafted, the emergency plan discussion required in the bill is not the responsibility of the covered facility. That emergency plan is required to be prepared by the local emergency planning committee. The way the bill is crafted the facility could be fined if it did not discuss a plan that had not been completed by the LEPC. To correct this potential problem, I would reword the new §306(2)(C) to read:

‘‘(C) The local emergency planning commission would be invited to explain the details of the methods and procedures to be followed to respond to a release of such a substance pursuant to the applicable emergency plan prepared under section 303(c).’’

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