By William Kramer
Victims May Have Legal Option
With sensational political and international events dominating the national scene, a continuing eco-outrage that affects millions is going on.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ban on asbestos was killed in 1991 by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet from the grave it maintains its grip on society.
According to one EPA source, “Asbestos products are no longer against the law, but you can’t buy them anywhere because most manufacturers are bankrupt. I think it’s a crime.”
“How do you mean?” we asked.
“That the ban ever happened. And that we’re still spending hundreds of millions a year to rip out stuff that never hurt anyone in the first place,” he said. “Course I shouldn’t be talking like this I could lose my job.”
We promised him anonymity.
Asbestos Substitutes Present Problems
Now it appears that substitutes besides being less effective than asbestos can be dangerous. For example:
*A noted expert states between 100 and 1100 American lives are lost annually in brake-related accidents caused by failure of asbestos substitutes used in replacement brake linings on pre-1992 vehicles.
*A 1982 government study showed no asbestos related disease risk among brake lining repair workers. The study has never been released and is, in effect, being suppressed by the EPA. Meanwhile, non- asbestos materials, which had been deemed too toxic to produce in America, are now being manufactured in the Orient, made into brake linings, and shipped here in volume.
* Asbestos-cement (A/C) pipe is the best and least expensive way to transport water. But the EPA’s ban of asbestos effectively halted AID funding of water projects in impoverished nations, which planned to build their own A/C pipes. Since they could not afford more expensive pipes, the projects were abandoned resulting in countless deaths from bad water. Today, ironically, A/C pipe is no longer banned.
* Fiberglass, often used in place of asbestos products nowadays, has proven carcinogenic in some animal studies, says another EPA source. It also causes allergic reactions when inhaled and is a skin irritant as well.
* Production of plastic pipe substitutes for asbestos-cement can be hazardous to workers, exposing them to carcinogenic vinyl chlorides.
Not that all asbestos is benign. The type used in shipbuilding during World War II known as crocodolite is highly carcinogenic. But chrysotile found in buildings, brake linings and other applications is virtually harmless. Yet the EPA refused to differentiate between them.
Staggering Costs Continue
This folly has cost Americans far more than most realize. Some private schools have folded -unable to meet the fantastic expense of EPA mandated “remediation. ” Public and parochial schools have had to pass on the costs of totally unnecessary rip outs of floors, ceilings and insulation in reduced quality of education, higher tuitions and higher taxes.
Meanwhile, owners and managers of apartment developments, office and commercial buildings, etc., have been panicked (or sometimes forced) into “asbestos remediation ” at staggering costs.
These have either bankrupted the owners, or else been passed along in rent raises, higher prices to consumers, or increased taxes.
The point is the expense of all this totally avoidable nonsense has been (and is still being) borne by we, the people. We suffer directly through higher prices and taxes, lowered educational standards, and less money for medical and dental care, homes, transportation, clothing or other necessities.
Legal Action An Option?
The root of this travesty has been the political greed, the bureaucratic aspirations for power, and the glaring malfeasance of one agency: The EPA.
So why shouldn’t the EPA be forced to pay those whom it has injured? After all, most environmental laws allow people to sue virtually anyone for transgressions.
The question is whether this can be applied to the EPA an arm of the U.S. Government. If so, a class action suit involving schools, landlords, private citizens, industry, businesses, and other interests might be filed. Various experts are now turning this over in their minds.
Nancy Marzulla, President of Defenders of Property Rights (a non-profit legal defense group headquartered in Washington, DC), believes asbestos businesses as well as schools; landlords and many others have suffered a “taking” which should be compensable under the law.
According to Bill Wewer, General Counsel of Putting People First (a non-profit organization fighting animal rights and green fanaticism), “This is exactly the type of lawsuit PPF likes to get involved in. It makes for broad public policy and helps keep the government honest.”
While a successful suit would undoubtedly redress some serious injustices, the obvious question is: who pays the damages in the long run?
The equally obvious answer is: we would.
In other words, the public gets hit twice. Once for the cost of committing the crime itself. Then for compensating the victims.
How does that grab you!!!??? §
For information on a possible class action suit, write: Action, P.O. Box 1209, Olney, Maryland 20830. Letters will be forwarded to the appropriate persons.
Bill Kramer is a former environmentalist who got fed up with the Greens extreme agenda. He writes a column that is printed in various publications entitled The Angry Environmentalist.