The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act was expected to glide through Congress without a hitch, effectively banning the production, sale and importation of asbestos in the United States. But a partisan gridlock brought the vote to a grinding halt.
Last November, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Majority and Minority worked hard to create a comprehensive asbestos ban bill to amend the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Toxic Substances Control Act. The landmark bill was voted out of the committee 47-1 with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“There is bipartisan consensus that Congress needs to ban asbestos, study legacy asbestos, and enhance chemical data reporting to prevent exposure to the deadly substance and save lives,” said Linda Reinstein, President and Co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). The bill was named after Reinstein’s husband who died from mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
The vote was scheduled for Sept. 29, but voting was suddenly stalled when GOP lawmakers took issue with the vague definition of asbestos, arguing that it could lead to more asbestos-related lawsuits.
“Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way,” said Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). “Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”
Asbestos is a durable, fire-resistant mineral that was widely used in construction and shipbuilding materials as well as friction products. By the time its use was restricted in the 1980s, it was widely known that asbestos was a human carcinogen, contributing to diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma. The mineral, which is mined from the earth in the same manner and often in the same proximity as talc, has also turned up in talcum powder products, including Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder. J&J has been hit with thousands of lawsuits alleging exposure to its products causes consumers to develop mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
The clause Republicans are taking issue with is what Democrat aides say was added “to make sure nothing in the bill would block the minority women who are primarily bringing suits over harm from cosmetic talc.”
In a statement, Reinstein said she was disappointed that the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act was removed without a vote. “While we understand and respect the legislative process, hundreds of thousands of families who have been affected by asbestos-related illnesses are waiting for action. All Americans remain in danger of asbestos exposure,” she wrote. “When the House resumes in November, we respectfully urge the Republican and Democratic Members to resume negotiations on H.R. 1603 so that the bill can be placed again on the suspension calendar.”
Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.
Talc-ovarian cancer lawyers
Beasley Allen lawyers continue to investigate new cases involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. For additional information on these cases, contact Ted Meadows, Leigh O’Dell or Brittany Scott.