EPA is Looking for “Small Business” Ammonia Refrigeration Facilities for Participation

EPA is Looking for “Small Business” Ammonia Refrigeration Facilities for Participation

EPA believes the RMP regulation has been effective in preventing and mitigating chemical accidents in the United States and protecting human health and the environment from chemical hazards. However, major incidents, such as the explosion at the West Fertilizer facility in West, Texas on April 17, 2013, highlight the importance of reviewing and evaluating current practices and regulatory requirements, and applying lessons learned to advance process safety management where needed.

On August 1, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13650, entitled Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security (EO 13650). EO 13650 directs the federal government to carry out a number of tasks whose overall aim is to prevent chemical accidents, such as the explosion in West, Texas, and their devastating effects. This includes considering possible changes to existing chemical safety and security regulations.

In this action, EPA will consider modifications to the current RMP regulations in order to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases at chemical facilities, and improve emergency response activities when those releases occur.

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EPA expects to conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel for the development of a proposed rulemaking that would modify the current RMP regulation in order to reduce the likelihood of accidental releases of toxic and flammable substances, and improve emergency response activities when those releases occur.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (RFA/SBREFA) requires EPA to convene an SBAR Panel for a proposed rule unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Panel process offers an opportunity for small businesses, small governments, and small not-for-profit organizations (collectively referred to as small entities) to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that EPA carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations. The Panel itself is comprised of federal employees from EPA, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Advocacy in the Small Business Administration (SBA). Small Entity Representatives (SERs) provide advice and recommendations to the Panel. Typically, EPA prefers that SERs be small business owners or operators, small organization officials, or small government officials. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, also may serve as SERs. These other representatives are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Information about what constitutes a “small business” is available at the SBA’s web page on size standards A “small government” is defined as a jurisdiction serving a population of 50,000 residents or fewer. A “small organization” is defined as any “not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” To learn more, review EPA’s Small Entities and Rulemaking – Frequent Questions web page.

How Can I Get Involved?

If you are a small business, government, or organization that may be directly subject to this rule, you are eligible to serve as a SER. Examples of small entities that may be RMP-subject include:

  • Ammonia refrigeration facilities,
  • Water and wastewater treatment plants (private or government-owned),
  • Warehouses,
  • Chemical manufacturers,
  • Natural gas processing facilities,
  • Petroleum refineries,
  • Chemical and petroleum distributors, and
  • Agricultural wholesale and retail facilities.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this action. Other types of entities not listed here could also be affected. As mentioned above, other representatives that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities may also serve as SERs. The role of a SER is to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the Panel carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations and to communicate with other small entities within their sector who do not serve as SERs.

You may nominate yourself to serve as a SER by following the directions in the next section. Depending on the volume of responses, EPA may not be able to invite all eligible candidates to participate as SERs. Generally, SERs will be asked to review background information, listen to informational briefings, and provide oral and written advice and recommendations to the Panel. At least one face-to-face meeting is typically held with the SERs in Washington, DC; a toll-free conference line is provided for this meeting.

Who Should I Contact?

SERs must:

  • qualify as “small” under SBA’s definition AND expect to be directly subject to requirements of the proposed rule; or
  • exclusively represent or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities (e.g., a trade association that exclusively or primarily represents small entities). Nominees such as these will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Individuals who are interested in potentially serving as a SER should send a message to RFA-SBREFA@epa.gov or call 202-564-2653 by no later than July 3, 2015. In the message, please provide:

  • Your name
  • Name of your company, governmental jurisdiction, or not-for-profit organization
  • Size of your company, governmental jurisdiction, or not-for-profit organization
    • If you are representing a business, you may confirm that your business meets the definition of “small” by consulting SBA’s web page on size standards. Please provide the primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for your firm and either average annual receipts or average annual employment for your firm. Note that a ‘firm’ includes parent company and all subsidiaries.
    • A small governmental jurisdiction means governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than 50,000.
    • A small organization means any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.
    • If you are with a group such as a trade association that represents small entities, please provide a list of your members, the size of your members (if possible), and a qualitative statement describing how your group can truly represent only the unique interests of your members that qualify as small entities.
  • Address
  • Contact information (preferably, a minimum of a phone number and email address)

Email nominations should be submitted with the subject line, “SER Self-Nomination for Modernizing the Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule.” Please check back for updates and remember: Depending on the volume of responses, EPA may not be able to invite all qualified candidates to participate as SERs.