Environmental Protection Agency weakened rules meant to protect workers and consumers
WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families filed petitions asking a federal court to review two rules recently finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the 2016 Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. The petitions challenge final rules on how EPA will prioritize chemicals for safety review and evaluate the risks of those chemicals. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is a coalition of over 450 organizations and businesses fighting for reform of toxic chemical laws.
The petitions allege the rules fail to provide the protections against unsafe chemicals that Congress required in the critical priority-setting and risk evaluation provisions of the new law, which are intended to ensure that unreasonable risks to health and the environment are fully assessed and eliminated.
The petition was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Safer Chemicals and its counsel are also representing Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). The petition was filed jointly with several organizations represented by Earthjustice, including WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Learning Disabilities Association of America, United Steelworkers, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Health Strategy Center, Environmental Working Group, and Sierra Club.
“As finalized, the rules bring back in some of the failures of the original law,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “If we’re going to swing all the way through with reform, we have to change those provisions.”
Linda Reinstein of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) pointed out that EPA’s failure to review and restrict asbestos in 1991 led thousands of people to be exposed to the deadly substance, resulting in countless new cases of mesothelioma. Reinstein also said, “similar failures under the new law will, tragically, have similar deadly results.”
The increased role of state regulatory action in recent years is partly what drove the chemical industry to accept some federal reform, said Paul Burns of VPIRG, a leading proponent of Vermont’s efforts to strengthen chemical safety rules. Burns continued, “if federal action is too weak or slow, real people’s lives are put at risk. The states will not sit idly by while the Trump administration puts the interests of industry ahead of people.”
For the sake of American families, public health advocates believe it is critical that EPA go back and strengthen these two rules.
For more details on the rules, see our recent blog post “The devil’s in the details: Trump EPA rules show chemical lobby influence.”