BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 18 state attorneys general calling on Congress to pass legislation banning the distribution, manufacturing, importation and processing of asbestos in the United States.
In a letter sent today to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, the attorneys general urge representatives to pass the “Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019” (the Reinstein Bill). Asbestos is a highly hazardous mineral fiber that has been used in a variety of piping and building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, and caulking and insulation. Exposure to the chemical can lead to life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung disorders and diseases.
“Each year, tens of thousands of people die from mesothelioma and other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos,” AG Healey said. “We need Congress to ban this toxic chemical and save the lives of workers and children in Massachusetts and across the country.”
In the letter, the attorneys general underscore the need for the protections in the Reinstein Bill because EPA is failing to meet its statutory obligations to protect the public from the proven dangers posed by asbestos exposure. The Reinstein Bill would reinstate a ban on asbestos that EPA attempted to adopt 30 years ago and has failed to revisit since. The chemical has been banned by more than 60 countries.
AG Healey’s Office is playing a leading role in opposing EPA’s efforts to loosen its regulation of toxic chemicals, including asbestos. In January, AG Healey led a coalition of states in filing a petition with EPA calling on the agency to issue regulations requiring those who import asbestos or use it domestically to give the agency the information it needs about asbestos to address significant risks to human health. EPA denied the petition in April and on June 28, AG Healey and the coalition sued EPA in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to compel the agency to issue the new regulations.
In August 2018, AG Healey led a coalition of state attorneys general 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 sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, 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.