The President Donald Trump EPA nominee is, Scott Pruitt – the attorney general of Oklahoma since 2011. He may become the head honcho at the agency, which shoulders the responsibility for protecting the environment.
No doubt the new Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act will be one of the subjects discussed as the Senate considers the nominee and whether or not to grant him the position.
Already, Pruitt has talked around a number of questions asked of him about asbestos and its potential ban in the United States, submitted in writing by senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
A report on Pruitt’s answers to the questions came from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a grass roots organization that, for 20 years, has been advocating for a greener America and who aims to activate consumers to press for better policies in regards to the environment.
In a recent press release, EWG revealed Pruitt’s answer to a question by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who first presented to the candidate mortality records from the CDC in regards to asbestos-related deaths:
“Given this data and your self-expressed concern for protecting workers, will you commit now to ensuring the EPA bans the import and use of asbestos under TSCA should you be confirmed?” Markey asked.
Pruitt answered as follows:
“Asbestos has been identified by the EPA as a high-priority chemical that requires a risk evaluation following the process established by the Lautenberg Act [TSCA] to determine whether conditions of use of the chemical substance pose an unreasonable risk. Prejudging the outcome of that risk evaluation process would not be appropriate.”
Given the evidence presented, advocates for a total ban on asbestos in the U.S. were hoping that Pruitt’s answer would be different and that he would confirm his commitment to seeing a ban become law.
Sadly, those who’ve been rallying for the ban for decades believed that the Lautenberg act would help them achieve their goals, but with a government in place that quite possibly chooses to ignore the dangers of asbestos, that ban may never happen, at least not within the next four years.
Those already touched by the dangers of asbestos exposure will be profoundly disappointed.
“Instead, Pruitt’s response was another know-nothing answer from a nominee who previously said he was unsure of whether there is any safe level of exposure to lead (there isn’t) and whether banning lead from gasoline was a good move (it was),” wrote Alex Formuzis of the EWG Action Fund.
A total of 58 nations worldwide have now banned asbestos. In the U.S., there was a proposal on the table in 1991 to ban the material as well, but a federal court overturned the motion.