Accountability is Key to Strengthening Public Health Protections against Toxic Chemical Threats

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Accountability is Key to Strengthening Public Health Protections against Toxic Chemical Threats 

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2013

Contact: Michelle Kimmel
American Association for Justice
202-944-2859
Michelle.Kimmel@justice.org

 

Accountability is the Key to Strengthening Public Health Protections against Toxic Chemical Threats

AAJ Environmental Lawyer Testifies about Need for Strong State Law, Civil Justice System

 

Washington, DC—In a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the need to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), American Association for Justice (AAJ) member Robin Greenwald testified on the principles that must be upheld to ensure TSCA reform legislation protects the public.  Greenwald, a renowned environmental attorney with the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., highlighted how the civil justice system and state laws complement federal regulation, ensure accountability and provide a safety net when federal regulation is insufficient. 

 “Enforcement of state law, both by private citizen suits and state enforcement actions, are essential components to fully protecting the health and safety of American families,” stated Greenwald.  “This approach has been in operation for decades, and while TSCA reform is sorely needed, such reform need not disrupt or eviscerate this comprehensive system of checks and balances.”

 Greenwald also explained how provisions limiting accountability in the current draft of S. 1009, the “Chemical Safety Improvement Act,” take chemical safety reform several steps backwards.  She noted that portions of the bill in its present form eliminate Americans’ rights under state law, removing a key incentive for manufacturers to update their products to reduce health and safety risks. 

 “S.1009 in several ways steps back in time to an era where industry safety claims about their products went unchallenged.  It essentially banks on the assumption that chemical manufacturers will always act in the interest of public safety by being candid and forthright in disclosing all of the information they have amassed about their chemicals and the potential dangers of their use,” commented Greenwald.  “History teaches us that the chemical industry cannot be trusted to place public safety above their bottom line.”

 Before a June hearing on TSCA reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, AAJ sent a letter to Congress outlining important legal principles that must be upheld in efforts to reform TSCA.  AAJ CEO Linda Lipsen commented in the letter:

 “Accountability achieved through our civil justice system is a vital component of the effort to protect the public from toxic chemicals and to shed a light on products harmful to human health.  If no one is accountable, no one is safe. Any effort to reform TSCA must specifically preserve the ability of individuals to pursue their rights under state law.”

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