Strategy Center Joins Two Lawsuits Challenging Trump EPA
The Strategy Center
PORTLAND, Maine, August 14, 2017--The Environmental Health Strategy Center today announced it has joined two lawsuits challenging the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for rewriting rules that determine how the agency will regulate toxic chemicals found in consumer products, building materials, and workplaces as well as in drinking water and food.
Earthjustice, the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organization, is representing the Strategy Center as well as organizations advocating for scientists, consumers, workers, Alaska Natives, people from low-income communities of color, and parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities. Earthjustice filed the complaint Friday in federal court in San Francisco.
Specifically, the lawsuits challenge two EPA regulations that set ground rules for how the EPA will prioritize chemicals for safety review and evaluate the risks of those chemicals under the recently updated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The rules will play a crucial role in whether the EPA fulfills its mission of protecting families and workers across the country from chemical risks or allows chemicals known to harm human health, like asbestos, to get a free pass.
“Obviously, it’s total exposure to a chemical, from all sources combined, that most endangers the health of pregnant women, children, and workers. Yet, the Trump EPA deliberately bypassed the law’s clear requirement that safety assessments be based on ALL uses of a chemical,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center.
“By allowing some or even most chemical uses to be ignored, the EPA proposes to do the very thing the new law was intended to halt: allow the chemical industry to continue to produce and sell toxic chemicals that pose unacceptable risks to human health,” Belliveau said.
“After Congress took bipartisan action to make desperately needed updates to our chemical safety laws, the Trump Administration has turned back the clock, leaving families and workers at risk,” said Eve Gartner, an attorney at Earthjustice. “The EPA’s newly adopted rules–overseen by a former high-level chemical industry official with head-spinning conflicts of interest–will leave children, communities and workers vulnerable to dangerous chemicals. This lawsuit is about one thing: holding the Trump EPA to the letter of the law and ensuring it fulfills its mandate to protect the public.”
In addition to the Strategy Center, the other organizations joining the suit are WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Learning Disabilities Association of America, United Steelworkers, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Working Group, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Sierra Club, Vermont PIRG, and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
In 2016, Congress overhauled TSCA for the first time in 40 years, requiring the EPA to conduct comprehensive risk evaluations of chemicals without regard to cost, and with special attention to the risks posed to vulnerable populations. Proposed rules for implementing the new requirements were issued for comment, but never finalized, under the Obama administration.
President Trump’s EPA has now issued final rules that are dramatically weakened from the proposed rules.
One of the key EPA officials charged with overseeing the drafting of the updated rules is Dr. Nancy Beck, a former high-level official in the leading chemical-industry trade association, who is riddled with potential conflicts of interest. Under her leadership, the final rules now cater to the chemical industry at the expense of public health.
The suits, technically referred to as “Petitions for Review,” ask the court to determine if the EPA rules were crafted in accordance with the law’s requirements and if the EPA followed the legal requirements for promulgation of new regulations.
The two rules in question are the “Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation Under the Toxic Substances Control Act,” and the “Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation Under the Amended Toxic Substances Control Act.”
For more than six years, the Strategy Center, along with Earthjustice and the other organizations filing suit, have fought for TSCA reform to ensure the EPA adequately protects the public and environment from harmful chemical.
Environmental Health Strategy Center is a public health organization based in Maine and working for healthy people thriving in a healthy economy. We educate and organize people and partners to advocate for two intertwined solutions: reducing humans' exposure to toxic chemicals in food, drinking water, and products, and sustainably manufacturing products that are safe for people and the planet. Together, these solutions can reduce disease and disability linked to toxic chemicals—cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, birth defects, autism, allergies, and asthma—and create a healthy economy based on good-paying jobs and careers created by manufacturing safer, sustainable products.