Search form

U.S. Court of Appeals Blocks New OSHA Fertilizer Rules Because of Improper Rulemaking

By Joseph Dreesen
  • October 3, 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration failed to go through the proper rulemaking process before mandating retailers to implement new stricter storage standards for anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled. Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute v. OSHA, No. 15-1326 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 23, 2016).

The three-judge panel said it was not ruling on the merits of the case, only that OSHA must go through a formal notice and comment rulemaking process if it wants to enforce stricter standards.

Following the 2013 explosion at the West (Texas) Fertilizer Company manufacturing facility, OSHA in July 2015 announced it would regulate retail sellers of farm fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia under the same standards as manufacturers. The change was scheduled to take place October 1, 2016. The Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute opposed the decision.

The appeals court vacated OSHA’s 2015 memo, which withdrew a long-standing exemption for “retail facilities” from strict Process Safety Management hazardous materials reporting standards for anhydrous ammonia. Now, the stricter standards are suspended, pending formal rulemaking procedures.

Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said of the Court’s decision, “Today’s action by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit forcing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to go through a formal rulemaking process before applying stricter standards to retailers of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer is a mark on the win column for Nebraska farmers and fertilizer suppliers.”

He added, “Since OSHA reversed its long-standing policy of exempting anhydrous ammonia retail facilities from extensive federal regulations in July of 2015, Nebraska Farm Bureau and others have challenged the flawed logic OSHA used to justify additional regulations on fertilizer suppliers which ultimately would drive up fertilizer costs for Nebraska farmers and could possibly limit access to anhydrous ammonia fertilizer product.”

Nelson also said, “The fertilizer industry estimates the rule could cost fertilizer suppliers in the neighborhood of $100,000 per facility which would ultimately translate to higher costs for farmers. Today’s court action will force OSHA to go back to the drawing board to justify their actions, and hopefully mark the beginning of the end for this unwarranted regulatory burden.”

Please contact Jackson Lewis to discuss the implications of this ruling.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

February 21, 2018

Maine Recreational Marijuana Law Limits Drug Testing, Disciplinary Consequences Imposed by Employers

February 21, 2018

A provision of Maine’s recreational marijuana law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions for off-premises marijuana use, as of February 1, 2018. This law effectively prevents Maine employers from testing for marijuana for pre-employment purposes. The law also affects employers who employ employees subject to federal... Read More

January 29, 2018

Fitness Industry Workplace Law Update – Winter 2018

January 29, 2018

Welcome to our premiere issue! Our goal is to keep fitness industry clients and contacts informed about employment and labor law issues that may affect your organizations. We hope you find this newsletter valuable and invite you to share it with interested colleagues and contacts. In this issue, we provide a brief summary of hot... Read More

January 24, 2018

2018: The Year Ahead for Employers

January 24, 2018

An executive summary of recent changes in workplace law and a look ahead to 2018. Read More

Related Practices