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NACD Urges Congress to Support HR. 888, the General Duty Clause Clarification Act of 2013

February 28, 2013, Arlington, VA – Today, the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) joined with 25 industry Associations in support of HR. 888, the General Duty Clause Clarification Act of 2013. In a joint letter addressed to Rep. Pompeo and Rep. Matheson, the Associations wrote, "We welcome the bipartisan introduction of H.R. 888, the General Duty Clarification Act of 2013 and urge your colleagues to cosponsor this critically important measure."

H.R. 888 would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to institute a transparent rulemaking process to clearly define facility obligations under the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act, and to ensure proper future application of the clause, based on Congressional intent.

In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act amendments, which codified section 112(r)(1), commonly known as the General Duty Clause. The General Duty Clause requires owners and operators of stationary sources to work to identify and prevent accidental releases of hazardous substances. EPA has yet to issue any proposed rule detailing enforcement or compliance requirements.

Regardless of these ambiguities and lack of guidance, in recent years EPA has increasingly used the General Duty Clause to impose substantial penalties on facilities. This situation has created uncertainty for industry, leaving questions about how compliance is measured and when compliance has been achieved. John Shanahan, Vice President for Legislative Affairs, stated, “This situation is unsustainable. Our facility managers need clear rules so they can comply with them. Otherwise, it’s regulatory compliance guesswork.”

The bill introduced today will provide much-needed regulatory certainty by requiring EPA to complete a rulemaking on the General Duty Clause before finding any facility in violation of the provision, and allowing owners and operators to make the final decision regarding the implementation of inherently safer approaches or technologies. Finally, the bill would also ensure proper application of the clause by affirming that jurisdiction of chemical facility security remains with the Department of Homeland Security, as Congress intended.

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