Earthjustice—on behalf of organizations representing consumers, people from low-income communities of color, Alaska Natives, parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities, workers, and scientists—has brought two suits against the Trump administration for weakening key rules establishing how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will regulate toxic chemicals found in consumer products, building materials, and work places, as well as in our drinking water and food. Specifically, the lawsuits challenge two EPA regulations that set ground rules for how EPA will prioritize chemicals for safety review and then evaluate the risks of those chemicals under the recently updated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Earthjustice filed the complaint in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Learning Disabilities Association of America, United Steelworkers, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Health Strategy Center, Environmental Working Group, and Sierra Club. The challenged rules will play a crucial role in whether EPA fulfills its mission of protecting families and workers across the country from chemical risks or allows known bad actor chemicals, like asbestos, to get a free pass.
In 2016, Congress overhauled TSCA for the first time in 40 years, requiring EPA to conduct comprehensive risk evaluations of chemicals without regard to cost, and with special attention to the risks posed to vulnerable populations. Under the updated law, President Trump’s EPA has issued dramatically weakened rules governing how the EPA assesses the safety of chemical in an effort to cater to the chemical industry at the expense of public health. 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.
For more than six years, Earthjustice and its clients in these lawsuits have fought for TSCA reform to ensure the EPA adequately protects the public and environment from harmful chemical.