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Chemical Safety Board Funding is in Jeopardy!

Richard Rosera

Last week's budget proposal from the Trump administration did not include any funding for the Chemical safety Board (CSB).  Who in Congress is willing to act as a champion for the CSB? I can think of a few Democrats (like Representatives Ted Lieu & Maxine Waters from California), but no Senators or Republicans. Although its complete elimination seems unlikely, wouldn't it be ironic if the last paid employee of the CSB was Daniel Horowitz (still on administrative leave since mid-2015 from the Moure-Eraso era, and still listed as an employee in the CSB Directory)? The other potential long term weapon which Mr. Trump has at his disposal is the appointment (or NOT!) of CSB Board Members. There is one vacancy now, and all of the current Board Member terms expire in the first half of 2020, well before the end of Mr. Trump's term in office.

March 19, 2017 @ 08:22 PM EDT Chemical, Energy - Oil and Gas, Government - Federal Environment, Health & Safety, Risk Management

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Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

For all its warts, foibles & perceived underachievement or overreach, the CSB has provided a service to both industry and the public which was simply not there previously. Its video summaries of accidents are outstanding training aids & well suited to widespread distribution. Lessons learned which might have been hidden from the view of both the public & industry have been aired, and recommendations for improvements in codes & practices have been made & adopted. It is interesting that many engineers outside the USA, some from countries with better process safety accident records than the USA, are big supporters & admirers of the CSB, and regret that their own countries don't have such an agency.

March 21, 2017 @ 12:47 AM EDT
Tamara Parris's picture
Tamara Parris

thank you for the interesting post Richard, our members enjoy your shares

March 22, 2017 @ 11:07 AM EDT
Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

Here is a statement by CSB Chair Vanessa Sutherland in the Houston Chronicle:
The notion that safety is always good for the bottom line is not new - but it is most assuredly a principle that should be taken more seriously. Twelve years after the BP Texas City disaster - one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the history of the United States - there still is much to learn.

Investigating such accidents is the responsibility of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) - the independent, nonregulatory federal agency that I head. I am devastated to know that President Trump's 2018 budget proposal seeks to eliminate the CSB. We have a truly unique mission as we are the only agency that acts as a watchdog for both industry and government agencies. Without the CSB, lessons will not be learned from future high-consequence fires and explosions.

Every refinery and chemical plant should be aware of the CSB's work and support its continued existence. The CSB's learnings from high quality accident investigations will not only keep communities and workers safe but also improve companies' bottom lines. In Texas, 24 chemical accidents have been investigated by the board. As the state with the highest number of CSB investigations, we hope that leaders in government across Texas will support the agency's ongoing work. Simply put, prevention is good business.

Industrial accidents do not occur in a vacuum; they reverberate throughout industry and affect ordinary Americans. The costs are enormous, from injuries and fatalities to long-term economic consequences.

March 23, 2017 @ 07:17 PM EDT
Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

Here is an editorial about the Chemical Safety Board defunding in Chemical Processing magazine by Editor in Chief Mark Rosenzweig:

April 06, 2017 @ 02:24 AM EDT
Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

Per the CSB public meeting of April 13, the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee has jurisdiction for the CSB in the budget process; see the following link for more information, including its membership & schedule of hearings (nothing yet scheduled for the budget): Subcommittee members are as follows:
Ken Calvert, California, Chairman
Mike Simpson, Idaho
Tom Cole, Oklahoma
David Joyce, Ohio
Chris Stewart, Utah, Vice Chair
Mark Amodei, Nevada
Evan Jenkins, West Virginia
Betty McCollum, Minnesota, Ranking Member
Chellie Pingree, Maine
Derek Kilmer, Washington
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio

April 14, 2017 @ 02:20 AM EDT
Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

Per this recent article from BNA, the CSB will not be going away without a fight: It is authorized under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 to submit a budget request directly to Congress, without going through the OMB.

April 16, 2017 @ 03:50 PM EDT
Richard Rosera's picture
Richard Rosera

Six Democrats and three Republicans from New Jersey have now written a letter to the Republican Chair & Ranking Democratic Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment to ask that funding of the Chemical Safety Board be maintained at $11.6 million annually:

May 03, 2017 @ 01:58 AM EDT