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Monday, July 01, 2019

AG HEALEY LEADS MULTISTATE LAWSUIT AGAINST EPA FOR FAILING TO REQUIRE ASBESTOS REPORTING NEEDED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC

AG HEALEY LEADS MULTISTATE LAWSUIT AGAINST EPA FOR FAILING TO REQUIRE ASBESTOS REPORTING NEEDED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC
EPA Denied AG Healey’s Petition to Ensure Full Evaluation and Regulation of Asbestos-Related Health Risks

            BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 11 state attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to require the chemical industry to provide the agency with the information it needs on asbestos to regulate it and protect the public from the serious health risks the substance poses.

            “Asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of people every year, yet the Trump Administration is choosing to ignore the very serious health risks it poses for our residents,” said AG Healey. “We urge the Court to order EPA to issue this new rule to help protect workers, families, and children from this toxic chemical.”

“It is widely acknowledged that asbestos is one of the most harmful and toxic chemicals known to humankind,” said AG Becerra. “While it’s troubling that we must once again take the EPA to court to force the agency to do its job, we won’t pull any punches. There’s too much at stake to let the EPA ignore the danger that deadly asbestos poses to our communities, including to workers and children.” 

Asbestos is a highly hazardous mineral fiber used in a variety of piping and building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. Exposure to asbestos can lead to life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung disorders and diseases. Currently, those who import raw asbestos or articles that contain asbestos are exempt from providing EPA with information about imported asbestos, even though the agency needs this data to protect the public from exposures to this notoriously toxic chemical.   

            In January, AG Healey and AG Becerra led a coalition in filing apetition with EPA urging the agency to issue new regulations to provide data on the importation and use of asbestos in the United States. The coalition asserted that the new set of regulations is needed for the agency to meet its mandate under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prevent unreasonable risks to health and the environment presented by asbestos. The new rule would also help ensure EPA’s regulatory decisions are consistent with the best available science.

The EPA denied the states’ petition in late April. In their lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging EPA’s denial of the petition, the coalition asserts that the denial of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and violates the agency’s obligations under TSCA.  

AG Healey’s Office is playing a leading role in opposing EPA’s efforts to loosen its regulation of toxic chemicals, including asbestos. In August 2018, AG Healey led a coalition of 12 state attorneys general, many of whom have joined today’s lawsuit, in filing comments with the EPA opposing its methodology for conducting risk evaluations for asbestos and other priority toxic chemicals and challenging the agency’s refusal to consider some of the most significant and potentially dangerous exposure risks posed by these chemicals.

Joining AG Healey and AG Becerra in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This matter is being handled for Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division.

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