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Congress has debated chemical safety and security policy for twelve years and no action has been taken for reform on chemical security. However, over the last two years, the West, Texas chemical plant explosion; the toxic plume release at the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, California and the chemical release in Charleston, West Virginia  illustrate the urgent need for change.

There are many lessons from these disasters and the inherent risks these facilities pose to workers and communities. But the most important lesson is that voluntary measures do not work.

After championing chemical plant safety in the Senate, President Obama promised to deliver on reform. Today his administration has a historic opportunity to protect millions of Americans from chemical disasters. The EPA has the authority to issue new rules that will ensure that high risk chemical plants switch to safer chemicals or processes that can actually eliminate the possibility of a disaster.

Report reveals 27 incidents since 2009

This June, an Interagency Working Group comprised of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report  to President Obama in response to his August 1, 2013 executive order (13650) directing  the EPA to  modernize  chemical plant safety and security policies.  The executive order was issued after the April 2013 explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people and destroyed neighboring homes, schools and a senior nursing home.

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