Last April, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to prevent companies from importing or selling asbestos-containing products in the United States without the agency’s explicit approval. Asbestos is a cheap and durable mineral that can be easily woven into fabrics and insulating materials. In the past, it was utilized by most American industries until scientists discovered that the mineral is also a dangerous carcinogen. Today, asbestos is responsible for over 90,000 fatalities each year.
That said, why does the EPA still allow companies to manufacture and import asbestos products?
One issue to consider is that the current president, Donald Trump, is an openly vocal advocate of asbestos who believes that the chemical compound is “100% safe, once applied” and that “the movement against asbestos was led by the mob…great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented.” Since his inauguration, Trump’s pro-business administration has been ignoring scientific evidence and reducing restrictions that protect the public from asbestos exposure. In fact, the president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Linda Reinstein, is concerned that the agency’s controversial regulations will help asbestos make a comeback.
Senior Officials Beg the EPA to Ban Asbestos
On May 8, 2019, the EPA made global headlines after the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization released In two internal memos regarding the agency’s Significant New Use Rule. Over a dozen senior officials, scientists, and lawyers working for the EPA begged the agency to go beyond the limits of the new SNUR to completely ban asbestos products in the United States.
In one memo, a staff member begged the EPA to “ban all uses of asbestos because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit” and “given the significant number of asbestos sites that EPA has to clean up due to improper disposal or abandonment, opening the door to new uses of asbestos is not an economically-wise or health-protective idea.”
Sadly, the EPA was pressured to support business profits over public interest.
Attorneys General Hold the EPA Accountable
The attorneys general of 10 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to implement policies that would completely ban asbestos. The lawsuit was filed on June 28, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The petition explains that the EPA’s choices regarding asbestos are “arbitrary, capricious” and in violation of the Toxic Substances Control act of 1796.
In a press release published on July 1, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey explained, “Asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills tends of thousands of people every year, yet the Trump administration is choosing to ignore the very serious health risks it poses for our residents. We urge the court to order the EPA to issue this new rule to help protect workers, families and children from this toxic chemical.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Healey and California Attorney General Becerra are the leading plaintiffs in this lawsuit. The rest of the coalition includes attorneys general from Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
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The award-winning and trial-tested attorneys at Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. are dedicated to helping clients pursue justice in cases involving asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. If you require qualified legal representation, contact our firm today!
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