Posted on November 9, 2016
We made a landmark step forward in June when reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) empowered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finally regulate the most dangerous chemicals used in our nation. Since then, the primary goal of asbestos advocates was to ensure the EPA prioritized asbestos as a top ten high-risk chemical for evaluation and regulatory action.
Yesterday’s election results delivered a setback to these efforts. President-elect Trump has made clear his intentions to dismantle the EPA once he takes office, and with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, he likely has the support to actually do so. He has also made clear, time and time again, his affinity for continuing the use of asbestos — we wrote all about it in June, but this 2012 tweet gets the gist across:
What does this mean for ban asbestos efforts?
It is crucial that the EPA prioritize asbestos by December 22 as a top ten high-risk chemical for evaluation and regulatory action.
With the transfer of power, the EPA as we know it will change. Trump’s administration could well usher in a resurgence in rampant use of this known human carcinogen by encouraging development and further deregulating industry.
ADAO has been pushing hard for the EPA to act now on asbestos, but now it’s time for full-court press. Last week we completed a campaign to collect support for an international sign-on letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy which gathered more than 300 signatures from 45 countries. The signatories represent some of the most respected scientific, medical, environmental, and labor organizations in the world, and even foreign governments. Our original plan was to hand-deliver this letter to Administrator McCarthy, but now we cannot afford to hold this letter until I can get out to DC. We’re sending the letter today, to both Administrator McCarthy and to the media.
Though asbestos victims are justly concerned for the future, part of strength of the Democratic process is our collective commitment to work within it.
Now, more than ever, we advocates need to live up to that promise. We’ve been saying we can’t afford to wait another day, another month, another year for the government to take federal action on asbestos, and that just became even more true. Please join me in redoubling our promise to fight for public health, the environment, and for the rights of asbestos victims everywhere.