NJ Sues to Stop Trump Rollback on Asbestos Use
The attorneys general of 11 states, including New Jersey, have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency arguing the agency has failed to properly regulate asbestos. In April, the agency announced a rule that opens the door to potential new uses for asbestos. The health hazards of asbestos exposure have been widely acknowledged for decades, causing lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. New Jersey banned asbestos earlier this year.
“We have known for many years that asbestos causes cancer, and its use has been basically banned. Now Trump wants to bring it back. Asbestos fibers are released into the air and inhaled, damaging the lungs, intestines, and other organs. This can lead to dangerous diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. We’re glad to see New Jersey join the suit to stop rollbacks on restrictions that could open up asbestos for new uses. The Trump administration is once again jeopardizing public health,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey banned asbestos sales and distribution earlier this year. We need to keep up the fight to ban asbestos everywhere.”
The bipartisan lawsuit is also looking to force the agency to collect and report data on importation and use of asbestos. Most asbestos today is mined in Russia. The states joining New Jersey in the suit are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
“There is global consensus on the health risks of asbestos. We’ve been working on removing this dangerous substance from our homes and other structures for decades, and we’re still working on it. By not banning asbestos outright the Trump administration wants to preserve opportunities for new uses of the substance. Most asbestos today is mined in Russia, which may help explain Trump’s interest in bringing it back. We cannot allow this rule to stand,” said Tittel.
EPA’s new rule was the first government action on asbestos taken in 30 years. The rule was intended to close loopholes that the Trump administration argued might allow for companies to resurrect abandoned uses for asbestos. The product has most often been used in construction and insulation. The new rule establishes a review process that could allow companies to argue successfully for new uses for asbestos
“New Jersey had to act with its own law to protect us from the Trump administration’s rollback on asbestos restrictions. However people should be protected from asbestos exposure wherever they go. We have known for more than 40 years that asbestos causes cancer. There’s no reason for asbestos to be used in any form anywhere in the country. We need a full nationwide ban on asbestos. Anything short of that is not enough,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.