Mr. President, today I rise to introduce legislation to do what should have been done decades ago: fully ban asbestos in the United States. I am introducing the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2003 to prohibit this known carcinogen from being used to manufacture products in this country. The bill also bans imports of asbestos products from other countries where asbestos is still legal. I am pleased that Senators BAUCUS, BOXER, CANTWELL, DAYTON, JEFFORDS and LEAHYare original cosponsors of this important legislation.
The primary purpose of the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2003 is to require the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to ban the substance within two years. Most people think that asbestos has already been banned. In fact, in 1989 EPA finalized regulations to phase out and ban the substance by 1997. But in 1991, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s ban, arguing that EPA did not ”first evaluate and then reject the less burdensome alternatives” under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Unfortunately, the first Bush Administration did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. While new uses of asbestos were banned, existing ones were not.