The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (“CSB”), the federal agency created under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and charged with investigating industrial chemical releases, has announced that it will draw up a new board following a recommendation to do so by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”). The CSB will also undertake an effort to hire additional investigators in order to broaden its capability to review and investigate releases. Currently, the CSB only has one sitting board member, Chairwoman Katherine Lemos, who acknowledged during a recent board meeting that there are challenges associated with a one-member quorum.
In July 2020, the EPA OIG published a report that raised concern with the lack of additional board members, resulting from the Trump Administration’s failure to nominate new members and impairing the effectiveness of the CSB “as all functions rest with that one member.” The OIG report identified challenges with workload that limit the CSB’s ability to conduct root cause investigations. In response, Lemos and CSB staff drafted a “new board order” that would allow newly appointed and confirmed board members to focus on the CSB’s mission, and further adopts best practices from other investigative agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board. Additionally, Lemos announced that the CSB will soon advertise positions for four new investigators to address the OIG’s finding that the agency suffered from reduced staffing. These positions will be posted on the USAJOBS employment website in the coming weeks.