“License to Kill” Bill Could Keep Asbestos Legal in the U.S.

Illustration of legal cases for asbestos and mesothelioma

Congress has introduced a new version of the Regulatory Accountability Act that could make banning asbestos an even more difficult journey. The House has already passed the new legislation, and it is currently awaiting a decision from the Senate.

This act, dubbed as the “License to Kill Bill” by the Center for American Progress, would essentially create a series of hurdles for proposed rules that could advance public health and safety and environmental protections. The bill would require new rules to go through a long series of studies, specific data, and judicial hearings to achieve approval, including:

  • A continuous cycle of agency studies on potential alternatives to the proposed regulations;
  • Agencies choosing the least costly alternative for the industry;
  • Limits on the science agencies can use to make such decisions;
  • Various administrative hearings that would ultimately cause more delays;
  • Judges’ ability to second guess expert opinions; and
  • Congress approval of all rules.

Last year, former President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which removed some of the roadblocks in the way of finally seeing a ban on asbestos. The bill gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to assess the risk factors of ten chemicals, including asbestos, and develop a mitigation plan for those that posed an unreasonable health and safety risk to the public.

Though it issued no guarantees for the toxin’s future, it was a positive step in the right direction. This new legislation would offer a new barrier to derail that progress being made.

President Trump has already expressed his belief that asbestos is “100 percent safe, once applied,” despite that the toxin is known to cause mesothelioma and other deadly diseases. His efforts to defund the EPA also show his disregard for the dangers of health hazards like asbestos and the suffering they cause.

Studies have shown Americans want more regulations and increased enforcement of laws to help keep them healthy and safe. This bill would essentially enforce the exact opposite and potentially put many more lives at risk.

With this bill awaiting approval, officials worry for the future of asbestos in the United States. A recent Centers of Disease Control (CDC) report showed an increase in deaths caused by mesothelioma. Since the disease is entirely preventable, it is more important than ever to enforce more regulations and declare a ban on the toxin to eliminate this suffering.

Should the Regulatory Accountability Act become law as it’s currently stated, public health and safety will face a deadly setback.