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‘Bombshell’ Report: Internal Memos Show Trump EPA Ignored Agency Scientists’ Calls to Ban Asbestos

(COMMON DREAMS) Jessica Corbett, May 13, 2019

In a report that elicited calls for congressional action, the New York Times revealedWednesday that “senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos.”

“I can’t think of an easier vote for members of Congress to cast than for a bill that bans a substance responsible for the deaths of so many.”
—Melanie Benesh, EWG

Asbestos is a group of fibrous, heat-resistant minerals used in manufactured goods, particularly building materials. According to the World Health Organization, “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement last month that the agency’s new rule “gives us unprecedented authorities to protect public health” and block certain products from the market. However, environmental and public health advocates raised concerns at the time about loopholes that remain, with one critic calling the regulation “toothless.”

Criticism of the rule resurfaced Wednesday when the Times reported on a pair of internal EPA memos (pdf) from last August, in which more than a dozen agency experts wrote:

Rather than allow for (even with restrictions) any new uses for asbestos, EPA should seek to ban all new uses of asbestos because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit—and because there are adequate alternatives to asbestos.

Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), was among those who demanded action from federal lawmakers following the “bombshell” report.

via ‘Bombshell’ Report: Internal Memos Show Trump EPA Ignored Agency Scientists’ Calls to Ban Asbestos.