Earlier this week, Roll Call published an op-ed by CPR Scholars Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy Wagner entitled, “Toxics Control Bill Will Handcuff EPA.”
The piece concludes:
In our decades of research and writing on tort law and environmental regulation, we have never seen a pre-emption provision that intrudes more deeply into the civil litigation system at the state level than the one in this bill. If victims of toxic chemical exposure attempt to recover damages at the state level, their cases would have to be dismissed if the EPA had concluded — rightly or wrongly — that a chemical was safe.
For example, Hurricane Katrina victims who were housed in formaldehyde-contaminated Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers successfully sued the trailer manufacturers for damages. Under this bill, if the EPA found that formaldehyde passed its safety test, those families would be denied even their day in court.
Reform of toxic chemical legislation is long past due and badly needed. But the current bill, at least as it stands right now, fails the most fundamental of tests: It doesn’t make the existing law better.