EPA Chemical Safety Rule Raises Questions About Authority

For what appears to be the first time in its history, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently finalized a rule that requires board-level involvement in an EPA-administered program. Specifically, the EPA’s recent amendments to the Risk Management Program (RMP) require certain chemical plants and refineries to submit third-party audit reports on process safety directly to the audit committee of the company’s board of directors. In short, the EPA is seeking to get involved in corporate governance by dictating what information management must provide to the audit committee and when — regardless of management input. In this article, first published in Law360 on April 25, 2024, Sidley lawyers Justin Savage, Ike Adams, and Aaron Flyer dissect the recent RMP amendments, which are a follow up to the EPA’s Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention rule, finalized March 11, 2024. The authors explore the EPA’s authority to regulate corporate governance requirements, the practical value in doing so, and the potential fallout for companies in terms of corporate governance. If the new RMP rule survives judicial review, it may embolden the EPA to issue other board reporting obligations in any number of its regulatory programs governing corporate operations.

This article was first published by Law360 on April 25, 2024.

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