- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Statement on Federal Court Order Directing EPA to Require Asbestos Reporting to Protect Public Health
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued the below statement in response to a ruling from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in favor of her office, that orders the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require the chemical industry to provide the agency with information about the use and importing of asbestos that the agency needs to protect the public from the serious health risks posed by the highly toxic chemical.
“The Trump Administration’s failure to use its authority to protect all of us from dangerous exposures to asbestos is as unconscionable as it is inexplicable. We applaud the Court for its clear message to EPA: act promptly and do your legally required job to protect public health by addressing risky asbestos exposures in the U.S.”
This ruling is in response to a 2019 lawsuit AG Healey co-led with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Asbestos is a highly hazardous mineral fiber used in a variety of piping and building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. Exposure to asbestos can lead to life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, mesothelioma, and other lung disorders and diseases. Currently, those who import raw asbestos or articles that contain asbestos are exempt from providing EPA with information about imported asbestos, even though the agency needs this data to protect the public from exposures to this notoriously toxic chemical.
In January 2019, AG Healey and AG Becerra led a coalition in filing a petition with EPA urging the agency to issue new regulations to provide data on the importation and use of asbestos in the United States. The coalition asserted that the new set of regulations is needed for the agency to meet its mandate under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prevent unreasonable risks to health and the environment presented by asbestos. The new rule would also help ensure EPA’s regulatory decisions are consistent with the best available science.
The EPA denied the states’ petition April 2019. In their lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging EPA’s denial of the petition, the coalition asserted that the denial of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and violates the agency’s obligations under TSCA.
AG Healey’s Office is playing a leading role in opposing the Trump Administration’s efforts to loosen its regulation of toxic chemicals, including asbestos. In August 2018, AG Healey led a coalition of 12 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.
This matter is being handled for Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division.