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senate Bill S. 1781

Clarifying the EPA's Role in Regulating Hazardous Chemical Facilities

Argument in favor

Amends vague legislative language while more fully defining the EPA's role in regulating chemical facilities.

Argument opposed

Waters down already weak regulatory protections of hyper-dangerous industrial sites.

What is Senate Bill S. 1781?

This bill deals with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations of chemical plants and language in the Clean Air Act. Specifically, the bill addresses a provision known as the "General Duty Clause." At present, the clause states that facilities using or possessing chemicals—such as oil and gas producers, refineries, and chemical manufacturers —have a “general duty” to identify hazards which may result from a chemical release and to take “necessary steps” to prevent such releases. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Require EPA to complete a rulemaking process before finding any facility in violation of the General Duty Clause;
  • Require definitions of “extremely hazardous substance,” “appropriate hazard assessment techniques,” and “design and maintain a safe facility” in any General Duty Clause regulation;
  • Require EPA to issue guidelines to ensure that EPA enforcement procedures are uniform across its Regions;
  • Prohibit the EPA from regulating chemical facility security under the General Duty Clause, reinforcing exclusive jurisdiction under the Department of Homeland Security.


The bill impacts facilities that harbor chemicals that may be considered hazardous, and EPA regulations thereof.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1781

A CBO cost is currently unavailable.

More Information


Argument For: Rep. Mike Pompeo (A bill summary offered by Rep. Pompeo can be found here.) 

Of Note:

-Here is the full text of the General Duty Clause:

...The owners and operators of stationary sources producing, processing, handling or storing such substances [i.e., a chemical in 40 CFR part 68 or any other extremely hazardous substance] have a general duty [in the same manner and to the same extent as the general duty clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)] to identify hazards which may result from (such) releases using appropriate hazard assessment techniques, to design and maintain a safe facility taking such steps as are necessary to prevent releases, and to minimize the consequences of accidental releases which do occur.


General Duty Clarification Act of 2013

Official Title

A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to clarify the definition of accidental release, and for other purposes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Environment and Public Works
    IntroducedDecember 9th, 2013

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