Representatives Cohen, Bonamici and McCollum Lead Letter Demanding Answers from EPA on Asbestos

May 23, 2019
Press Release
Asks why agency’s own scientists’ recommendations were ignored

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Betty McCollum (MN-04) led a letter with 32 other representatives to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler asking for an explanation of why the agency disregarded the advice of its own scientists by issuing a rule restricting but not banning asbestos, a known carcinogen. See the letter here.

The letter reads in part:

“In a memo written by your own staff in August 2018, they stated, ‘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.’

“Yet, on April 17, 2019, the EPA issued a new rule that “strengthens the agency’s ability to rigorously review an expansive list of asbestos products that are no longer on the market before they could be sold again in the United States.

“We find it incredibly concerning and extremely peculiar that the EPA would cede its own experts’ advice on banning asbestos, a known human carcinogen that has killed millions of people over the last several decades.”

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“My friend, the singer-songwriter Warren Zevon died of mesothelioma, a disease usually caused by exposure to asbestos. I see no reason for why the substance should not be banned, and evidently the scientists at the EPA agree.”

Congresswoman Bonamici made the following statement:

“It is irresponsible for the EPA to disregard calls from its own scientists to ban asbestos, a known carcinogen that kills 40,000 Americans each year,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “The EPA is continuing to put lives at risk by ignoring its own scientists and continuing to allow uses of asbestos. The EPA has no excuse for its blatant disregard of science and the heath of the American people.”

Congresswoman McCollum made the following statement:

“Administrator Wheeler’s decision to ignore the advice of career scientists at the EPA and forgo banning asbestos is deeply troubling, and flies in the face of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. The American people deserve answers from the Trump administration as to why they are allowing this incredibly harmful carcinogen to remain in use, and it is my hope that this inquiry will provide some clarity.”