EPA Calls Freakout Over Asbestos Rule Fake News

Chris White | Energy Reporter

The EPA is pushing back against numerous “inaccurate” media reports claiming the agency is etching out new rules effectively legalizing all forms of asbestos production.

Multiple reports suggesting the agency is giving manufacturers the go-ahead with asbestos production appears to be grossly overblown, according to the federal registry. The EPA is tightening regulatory scrutiny on new uses of the chemical, which is heavily restricted but not banned in the U.S.

“The press reports on this issue are inaccurate,” EPA spokesman James Hewitt told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Without the proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) EPA would not have a regulatory basis to restrict manufacturing and processing for the new asbestos uses covered by the rule.”

He was referring to what is called a Significant New Use Rule (or SNUR), a rule forcing manufacturers to notify the EPA if they intend on producing a product with chemicals from asbestos. The industry could produce and use asbestos for any reason save for the SNUR, according to the agency.

Hewitt added: “The EPA action would prohibit companies from manufacturing, importing, or processing for these new uses of asbestos unless they receive approval from EPA.” The agency’s new administrator, Andrew Wheeler, responded Wednesday with a similar complaint on Twitter. (RELATED: Postal Service Exposes Employees To Asbestos, Mold And ‘Sanitary Issues’)

“There have been some inaccurate media reports regarding @EPA‘s actions on asbestos,” Wheeler tweeted to his followers. “The facts are @EPA is proposing a new rule that would allow for the restriction of asbestos manufacturing and processing of new uses of asbestos.”

Online media outlet Fastrack Company reported in a July 31 article that “Trump’s EPA has made it easier for companies to begin using asbestos again.” The publication’s author, Aileen Kwun, went on to highlight what she believes to be a parade of horribles if the agency degrades rules limiting the use of asbestos.

The U.S. restricts the use of the material, but it remains one of few developed nations that has refrained from banning asbestos outright. Activists have long-sought for an outright ban, according to Competitive Enterprise Institute analyst Angela Logomasini.

“A lot of uses of the dangerous types of asbestos were banned,” Logomasini told TheDCNF, adding that asbestos containing short-fibers are regularly used to make car brakes and other important products. “The risks of brake failures would be much higher were it not for certain types of asbestos.”

She noted that the EPA’s SNUR rule make sense considering the considerable risk. “What the EPA is saying is that if you are going to do a new use, you need to come to us to check if it is something that will need tighter restrictions,” Logomasini said. “The ones that we use now are very short fibers – doesn’t mean they are not dangerous. Just means you can manage their risks easier.”

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