Sen. Isakson Supports Chrysotile Ban???

At today's Senate hearing on Senator Patty Murray's (D-WA) proposal to ban asbestos in the U.S., Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said some very interesting things.  (Audio here) His opening statement began predictably:

There is no debate that certain forms of asbestos are toxic and deadly.  (Oh yeah, I know where this is going.  It's the same old debate about amphibole v. serpentine fibers.)    We will hear today that there are several types of asbestos.  Different forms of asbestos pose different health risks.  (I knew it.  I know where he's going now.  Another defender of chrysotile.)    Any ban passed by Congress should recognize those differences.

(For more on the asbestos industry's campaign to convince us that chrysotile is the "safe form of asbestos," read Egilman et al's "Exposing the Myth of ABC.")

But then the Senator made a U-turn in his statement, or at least I think he did.

Senator Isakson continued, referring to the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAIR Act) which was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 109th Congress, but later stalled in the full Senate.

Last Congress, I was happy to support the ban included in Senator Spector and Senator Leahyâs FAIR Act.  Senators Spector and Leahy recognized the important distinctions between various kinds of asbestos, and the ban that emerged in their bi-partisan bill was a workable and reasonable ban.

After the hearing concluded, I dug out my copy of the FAIR Act (S. 852) to look at the asbestos ban provision.  Did it make some distinction between amphibole and chrysotile?  I didn't remember that, but with Senator Isakson's strong endorsement of the "ban language" in the FAIR Act, there must be some loophole for chrysotile, right?

On about page 400, I found Title V, Subtitle B: Ban of Asbestos-Containing Products.  The ban would extend to the following durable fibrous minerals:

  • chrysotile
  • amosite
  • crocodolite
  • tremolite asbestos
  • winchite asbestos
  • richterite asbestos
  • anthophyllite asbestos
  • actinolite asbestos
  • asbestiform-amphibole minerals

I see chrysotile right at the top of the list.  Am I missing something?  Was there some exception for chrysotile in the FAIR Act's asbestos ban?  Senator Isakson, if you're out there, can you help me understand?

More like this

Nearly 7 years ago, the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) began a legislative effort to ban asbestos-containing products.  Yesterday, the "Ban Asbestos in America Act" passed the Senate with a bi-partisan voice vote. On introducing the measure, the bill's author…
Just as the 60-day deadline approached for filing a legal challenge to a new health standard to protect mine workers from asbestos exposure, mining industry trade associations submitted their petitions in federal court.  MSHA's rule was published on February 29, and tick-tock, like clockwork,…
Crank magnetism is the tendency of someone attracted to one crank idea to be attracted to more. Ian Plimer, already notable for his acceptance of the iron Sun theory and the volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans theory has now been revealed as believing (like Christopher Booker) that white asbestos…
Serpentine (as known as serpentinite), the current (and potentially soon-to-be ex-) state rock of California. This does not have a direct connection to volcanoes, but it sure is about geology and the science in the news. State Senator Gloria Romero of California has sponsored a bill to change the…

This is what happens when you don't read what you vote for

What does that mean? He clearly has read the bill. Are you serious?

Brett, you may be right that he really didn't read the FAIR bill, or his staff read the bill and didn't understand the meaning of the list of minerals. From his comments at the March 1, 2007 hearing, it certaintly sounded like he thought that the FAIR bill gave some exception for chrysotile.

Tom, if he did read the bill, is there something in it that lead him to believe there is an exception for chrysotile? I'm really trying to understand where he is coming from?

By Celeste Monforton (not verified) on 05 Mar 2007 #permalink