July 1 (UPI) -- A group of 10 states and Washington, D.C., sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday seeking increased regulation of cancer-causing asbestos.
The Democratic attorneys general said the EPA ignored their previous petition to create a new rule collecting data on the importation and use of the toxic substance. Such reporting is necessary, they say, to provide the EPA with the information it needs to regulate asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
"It is widely acknowledged that asbestos is one of the most harmful and toxic chemicals known to mankind," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "While it's troubling that we must once again take the EPA to court to force the agency to do its job, we won't pull any punches. There's too much at stake to let the EPA ignore the danger that deadly asbestos poses to our communities, including to workers and children."
In April, the EPA issued a new rule it said would allow the agency to ban or restrict the use of certain asbestos products. Critics questioned why the agency didn't outright ban the substance.
Monday's lawsuit said the EPA's denial of the states' petition for further rulemaking in April was "arbitrary and capricious."
Joining California in the lawsuit were Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has historically been used in a number of manufacturing processes, including the creation of insulation, fireproofing materials, automotive brakes, cement and other textile products. The substance can break down into microscopic pieces that can float into the air and be breathed in by humans, causing life-threatening diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.