Regulatory Accountability Act Would Keep Asbestos Legal for Foreseeable Future
A bill that has been bouncing around Congress for over a year would bring about some frightening changes to regulatory authority. If passed, the bill (officially titled the “Regulatory Accountability Act”) would make it almost impossible to ban asbestos in the future in the United States. The substance has long been known as a carcinogen and the main cause of the deadly disease, mesothelioma.
Still, anti-regulation proponents feel that a ban on asbestos fibers would be unnecessary and costly for small businesses throughout the country. But, is the cost of replacing materials containing asbestos higher than the cost of human life?
Congress May Be Granting a “License to Kill”
Opponents of the bill have called it the “License to Kill Bill” because it effectively gives corporations carte-blanche when it comes to using lethal materials. It also makes it far more difficult for new regulations to be proposed and passed. The bill was originally introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2017, and a version of the bill passed in the House later that month. It was then introduced in the Senate in April 2017 and seemed to have a great deal of sponsors and support. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Despite GOP support and having a Republican-controlled House and Senate, the bill has been stuck in Senate committees for almost a year. It is currently in the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee in the Senate. While the bill may be in the proverbial “slush pile” at the moment, the threat is still there. If it ever comes to a full Senate vote, the Regulatory Accountability Act will likely be passed, signed by President Trump, and codified into law.
This would prove to be a major blow to anyone at risk of asbestos exposure. It would also undoubtedly leave a bad taste in the mouths of the 3,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
Why Hasn’t Asbestos Been Banned?
If you’re wondering why asbestos is still legal in the United States, you’re not alone. Attempts to ban the substance have fallen short over the last 30 years largely due to pressure from asbestos industry lobbyists. Although the material has been proven to be deadly, the industry itself still maintains a lot of power.
A full ban on asbestos was instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1989, but that ban was overturned by the courts in 1991. Since then, six legislative attempts to ban asbestos have fallen on deaf ears. The 2016 Frank J. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act was one of the first bright spots in the asbestos ban saga. It provided an actionable outline for prohibiting asbestos nationwide.
The Regulatory Accountability Act, on the other hand, seeks to limit or completely eliminate the provisions in the Lautenberg Act. That means, the progress that the Lautenberg Act has been making will essentially be cut off. Another asbestos ban bill was introduced in the Senate by Democrats in November 2017, but it is unlikely to pass without bipartisan support.
It seems that the legality of asbestos is teetering. The Regulatory Accountability Act could make any future ban effort moot. It’s important to contact your Senator if you believe that the Regulatory Accountability Act is bad for America.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call or email us for a free consultation.