States and NGOs Fight Back Against Asbestos Petition Denied By EPA

Jul 19, 2020 | Asbestos, Toxic Tort

Last week, we reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) apparent about-face on its position as to whether it has sufficient information from companies regarding asbestos use in order to determine whether further limitations should be places on the import and use of asbestos in the United States. A June 30, 2020 Spring Unified Regulatory Agenda (SURA) signals that the EPA will require companies to provide much more detailed information about asbestos so that the EPA can fill data gaps necessary to promulgate further regulations; however, in 2019, the EPA denied a petition from 14 states and NGOs requesting that the EPA require companies to report the same information that the EPA now says that it needs. At the time, the EPA denied the petition and stated that it did not need any further information regarding asbestos.

Last week, the 14 states and NGOs argued in federal court that the EPA was wrong to deny their petition in 2019, and that the June 2020 statement by the EPA supports the position that the petition was wrongly denied. The coalition of states and NGOs used the Administrative Procedures Act as the basis for their argument and asked the court at a summary judgment hearing to force the EPA to act on their request from 2019.

The current regulations exempt reporting of “naturally occurring substances” — which include raw asbestos — as well as substances contained within larger things, according to the states, which said chemical processors also are not required to submit important data. They believe the EPA is not upholding its obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act by refusing to close the purported data gaps. “These gaps effectively shield asbestos importers, and those who manufacture/import goods that contain asbestos, from having to disclose their role in distributing asbestos, and prevent EPA from fulfilling its statutory mandate to protect the public from this notorious carcinogen,” the states said in their motion. Litigants active in the asbestos litigation will undoubtedly closely watch the results of the oral argument to see how the federal court will deal with the EPA’s apparently contradictory positions from 2019 and 2020.

CMBG3 Law LLC has represented clients in toxic torts matters, especially with respect to asbestos, for many years. We provide the most current legal advice to our clients by staying on top of developments in science, medicine, and regulations regarding a wide variety of substances and products used by consumers every day. If you have any questions or would like more information about the asbestos regulations referenced in this article, please contact John Gardella, Esq. (email him or 617-279-8225).

Authored By:

John Gardella, Esq.

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