EPA Defends Asbestos Reporting Loopholes in Court

Courthouse News

by Nicolas Iovino
San Francisco, CA – Despite identifying major gaps in knowledge about asbestos in a recent draft risk report, the Trump administration on Thursday defended lax reporting rules that let companies avoid disclosing how much asbestos is made, imported and put into U.S. products. “The EPA has offered its basis which is rooted in science, and the court should defer to the agency’s discretion,” Justice Department lawyer Brandon Adkins argued in federal court in California. Adkins was defending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s December 2018 denial of a petition seeking to close loopholes in asbestos reporting requirements for U.S. importers and manufacturers. 

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Lax Lead Paint Rules Endanger Children, Green Groups Say

Bloomberg Law

National – EPA has failed to update the definition of lead-based paint, leaving children at risk of lead poisoning, environmental and community groups will argue before the Ninth Circuit Tuesday. The EPA issued a final rule in July 2019 that included the definition and lowered the level at which dust containing lead is considered a hazard, but those dust-lead hazard standards are still too high to protect the public, the Sierra Club, California Communities Against Toxics, and other environmental groups say in their petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  

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ASTM’s Proposed Definition of CREC May Jeopardize Landowner Liability Protections Under CERCLA

JD Supra

by Amy Edwards
International – ASTM has proposed redefining a Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC). The ASTM’s definition, as drafted, confuses risk-based decision-making with the implementation of institutional controls, undermining 20 years’ worth of other ASTM and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work on institutional controls. The proposed CREC definition raises significant questions as to when “continuing obligations” will apply and therefore how prospective purchasers can maintain their landowner liability protections (LLPs) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  

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Scientists Are Exploring Ways to Use Asbestos Mineral Waste from Mines to Pull Huge Amounts of Carbon Dioxide from the Air

MIT

by James Temple
Washington, DC – The vast surface area of certain types of fibrous asbestos, a class of carcinogenic compounds once heavily used in heat-resistant building materials, makes them particularly good at grabbing hold of the carbon dioxide molecules dissolved in rainwater or floating through the air. The initial hope is to offset the ample carbon emissions from mining itself using these minerals already extracted in the process. But the real hope is that this early work allows them to figure out how to effectively and affordably dig up minerals, potentially including asbestos, specifically for the purpose of drawing down vast amounts of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. 

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Partisan Fight Sinks Asbestos Ban Bill

Politico 

by Kelsey Tamborinno
Washington, DC – House leadership included the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now bill, H.R. 1603 (116), that won overwhelming support in committee on this week’s list of suspension votes. But Democrats added in a “saving clause” to satisfy a concern from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) that the legislation might inadvertently affect thousands of ongoing private lawsuits over alleged asbestos contamination of talc powder. That prompted Republicans to pull their support, arguing Democrats “moved the goalposts.” Click here for the full text of the transcript.

HUD Awards $9M to Making Homes Safer for Tribal Communities

Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded more than $9 million in Healthy Homes Production grants to twelve tribes and tribal agencies to protect children and families from home health and safety hazards. Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing conditions can be improved by addressing factors such as lead paint, indoor air quality and ventilation, heating devices, and moisture damage. The grant funding announced will assist and protect families by targeting health hazards in the homes of 630 low-income families where significant home health and safety hazards exist. 

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Lead Based Paint Inspections in NYC Just Got Tougher

Habitat Magazine

by Kathryn Farrell
New York, NY – The city has enacted stricter regulations on detecting lead-based paint inside apartments – yet another item for the to-do lists of some co-op and condo boards and their management companies. Local Law 31, which went into effect on Aug. 9, requires an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer inspection to be performed within the next five years in certain apartments. The XRF test must be performed by an inspector certified by the Environmental Protection Agency who has no relation to either the board or the company that does the building’s lead-remediation work. 

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Construction Industry Lobby Blocks Bill to Ban Asbestos

Environmental Working Group

by Alex Formuzis
Washington, DC – Legislation to ban the future use and importation of the notorious and deadly carcinogen asbestos was blocked from passing the House Thursday night after lobbyists representing a powerful sector of the building and construction industry objected. The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, or NSSGA, stopped the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, or ARBAN (H.R.1603,) from coming up for a vote over complaints that the definition of asbestos in the legislation was too broad, arguing it “deviates from the longstanding, mineralogically accurate definition.”  

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Asbestos Ban Stalls in Congress Amid Partisan Fight

The Hill

by Rebecca Beitch
Washington, DC – Democrats and Republicans are each accusing the other of holding up a bill to ban asbestos that had been expected to pass with little controversy this week. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act exited committee with just one no vote and was expected to sail through the voting process without amendments. But Democratic aides on the Energy and Commerce Committee say that progress has stalled as GOP lawmakers object to a provision that assures the legislation would have no impact on ongoing litigation over injuries tied to use of talcum powder. 

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US House of Representatives to Vote On Bicameral Alan Reinstein Ban Asebstos Now Bill

Washington, DC – The bicameral Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 (ARBAN) will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 29. ‘This bill will stop hundreds of metric tons of asbestos from entering the United States each year and will protect Americans from being exposed to the deadly threat of asbestos found in homes, schools, workplaces, and on consumer shelves,” said Linda Reinstein, President of ADAO and widow to the bill’s namesake. “As we saw in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we expect a strong vote in the House. We then expect the Senate to affirm that it is past time for the U.S. to join the nearly 70 countries that have already banned asbestos to protect their citizens from this known carcinogen.”

HR 1603 would accomplish several critical public health objectives:

  1. It would ban the importation and use of asbestos, and asbestos containing products within one year of enactment.
  2. Chlor-alkali plants using asbestos diaphragms would need to eliminate the use of asbestos and convert to non-asbestos technology following a ten-year transition period.
  3. The bill would establish a new Right-to-Know program to require current importers, processors, and distributors to report and disclose to the public how much asbestos is in U.S. commerce, where and how it is used, and who is exposed.
  4. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would conduct a comprehensive study of risks presented by “legacy” asbestos used in building construction decades ago but still present in millions of residences, businesses, factories, public buildings, and schools.
  5. The presence of asbestos contaminants in consumer products and construction materials would be stringently controlled.
  6. The hazardous Libby Amphibole form of asbestos, found in attic insulation in millions of homes, would be covered by the ban.

 Click here for Tuesday’s House Schedule. Click here for the full text of the bill.

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