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May 17, 2017

Regulatory Accountability Act: Extinguishing Hopes of Banning Asbestos

Last year, President Barack Obama signed into law a long awaited bill that places stronger regulations on toxic chemicals but unfortunately, a recent piece of legislation that has already swept through the House could tear it all down and undermine the work of The Clean Air Act, The Toxic Substance Control Act, and The Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), which now sits in the Senate, will impose greater restrictions and requirements on the aforementioned agencies by requiring them to conduct more research, analyze more data, and conduct public hearings for major regulations. The concern from those who oppose the act is that the RAA requires too many barriers and places too many restrictions on efforts that are meant to increase public safety. The RAA does not repeal the laws that are already in place, but instead prevents these helpful agencies from enforcing their own laws or even creating new ones, regardless of public concern or awareness.

This can result in exposure to unsafe levels of pollution, drugs, and toxic substances, like asbestos. Asbestos was initially banned in 1989, but unfortunately in 1991, loopholes in the TSCA that considered the damages and affects that banning asbestos would have on the economy allowed asbestos to remain legal in the United States. The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act that was introduced to the Senate in September 2016 gave anti-asbestos advocates hope for the ban of the toxic substance, even though the process could take up to seven years. Under the RAA, the process for declaring a product, substance, or chemical unfit for society is prolonged, thwarting any current and future attempts to ban asbestos.

Agencies under the RAA would have to endure costly vigorous testing to not only find potential alternatives to toxic substances, but to also find the most cost effective one. The RAA can limit the scientific facts that backup said claims, and a judge is able to overrule or second guess any expert opinion on the matter. Finally, Congress must approve all new rules before they can be implemented.

Adverse health effects from asbestos exposure like lung cancer and mesothelioma date back decades, but companies down-played and even ignored the issue – risking the lives of their dedicated workers and their families. It wasn’t until a series of lawsuits in the late 1960s and 1970s that the public became aware of the dangers of asbestos. The attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. have been there from the very beginning; helping thousands of local workers and their families receive the compensation they deserve. Contact GPW today via our web form or call 1-800-Complex for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Sources:

Alex Formuzls, “The Senate is About to Pass a Bill That Could Keep Asbestos and Other Deadly Chemicals Legal,” Environmental Working Group (May 15, 2017). [Link]

 

H.R.5 – Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017, 115th Congress. [Link]

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