Congrats to EarthJustice, NRDC and Pesticide Action Network:
(Now the EPA Needs a PCB Smackdown!)
When a court opinion starts off with a sentence like this, you know it is going to be a good read:
“Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health.”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a “writ of mandamus,”a command to a court, agency or person to perform its public or statutory duty. The writ ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on a 2007 petition to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used agricultural insecticide whose dangers have been studied for many years.
This EPA needs another “smackdown” for not enforcing the law on PCBs. But, even when EPA fails, Congress added a “Citizen’s Suit” clause to TSCA, so that Citizens can enforce the law. And this is why America Unites and PEER have gone to court; to ensure the law is followed and children and teachers are protected from a banned and highly toxic chemical the EPA claims to have no safe levels. (see EIS by EPA 1978)
No matter what the EPA policy is on PCBs–which is not law–or how the district perceives EPA policy on PCBs to be, SMMUSD is required to comply with Federal law. Their lawyers know the law (or should) and the district is required to follow the law. It’s as simple as that.
The EPA does not dispute the law to which PCBs are an illegal use and must be removed. It is solely SMMUSD that claims PCBs over 50 ppm can remain in place (a blatent violation of TSCA) and they keep pointing to the EPA in their press releases as justification to break the law. Even Judge Anderson, the Federal Judge in America Unites vs. Lyon case, recognized the districts intentional misleading of the parents, “the district has conflated the identified caulk containing PCBs with concentrations in excess of 50ppm that must be removed…whether intentionally misleading or merely unintentionally confusing…“
Justice is on our side. Its just a matter of time. Sadly, that time can not be returned to our children or their teachers, nor can the damage of PCB exposure on their health be reversed.
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joel Shufro, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
(I have) urged the EPA to acknowledge the emerging science on the health effects of PCB exposure, and apply the precautionary principle to protect school employees, teachers and children who work and learn in these buildings."
David O. Carpenter, Ph.D. at University of Albany
"There is no safe level of PCBs for kids to breath. PCBs must be removed from our nation's schools."
Legislative History of TSCA and Banning of PCBs
The EPA is not one of viperous and quick action. This amendment defines PCBs to be bad, hazardous and dangerous and it mandates a program for their gradual removal, beginning with those uses which are outside of enclosed containers.