AG Becerra Urges Congress to Support Asbestos Ban, Blasts EPA’s Flawed Process

SACRAMENTO, July 12, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a multistate coalition, today announced his support for the “Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019” (Reinstein Bill), H.R. 1603. The Reinstein Bill would prohibit the manufacture, importation, processing, and distribution in commerce of asbestos in any of its forms and reinstate an asbestos ban that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to adopt 30 years ago. Asbestos is one of the most harmful chemicals known to humankind, with no safe level of exposure. It is banned in more than 60 countries. It is linked to mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer.

“EPA’s recent actions demonstrate that the agency cannot be relied on to take the necessary steps to address the unthinkable risks asbestos poses to our health and environment,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Many Californians are at risk because the EPA refuses to collect sufficient data on asbestos, refuses to evaluate the major pathways of exposure to asbestos, and has opened the door to new uses of asbestos. Once again, the Trump Administration’s EPA is moving in the wrong direction. The Reinstein Bill covers all uses of asbestos and leaves no room for error. We need to force the EPA to do their job and keep Californians safe.”

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Eighteen attorneys general voiced their support for the Reinstein Bill in a letter to the chairpersons and ranking members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter calls for stronger protections against exposures to asbestos, and urges Congress to require the EPA to report to Congress on the risks of legacy asbestos currently present in buildings and found on aging tiles, adhesives, and piping. EPA’s current plan to evaluate the risks posed by asbestos leaves gaping holes, failing to assess the risk presented by legacy asbestos, as well as imported raw asbestos, which the agency terms as a “naturally occurring substance.” The coalition underscores the Reinstein Bill as being especially important since the EPA has demonstrated its inability and unwillingness to address the risks asbestos poses to environment and human health. The letter also blasts the EPA’s Significant New Use Rule for opening the door to new uses of asbestos. The EPA’s new rule moves our country in the exact opposite direction we should be headed for this dangerous chemical.

Attorney General Becerra filed the letter along with the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter can be found here.