Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to ensure adequate data is collected on asbestos

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered the following statement today after Ferguson filed his 40th lawsuit against the Trump Administration. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, seeks to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect adequate data on the importation and use of asbestos in the United States:

“The EPA can’t adequately assess the human health risks posed by asbestos if it doesn’t even know how much of this highly toxic substance is coming into the country,” Ferguson said. “Asbestos is a dangerous pollutant, posing significant and life-threatening risks to people who are exposed to it. The Trump Administration should want to know as much as it can about the presence of this carcinogen in our country.”

If successful, the multistate lawsuit led by California and Massachusetts will require the EPA to expand asbestos reporting rules.

The lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to establish rules concerning industry reporting requirements for asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act. In January, Ferguson joined 14 other Attorneys General to petition the EPA to expand reporting of asbestos in manufacturing, importing and processing. In April, the EPA denied the petition, prompting the states’ lawsuit.

Trump’s long record defending asbestos

Asbestos’ use is banned in over 60 countries, and heavily restricted in the United States. Laws prohibit the use of asbestos in construction because of the health risks it poses. Direct or indirect exposure to the carcinogen can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, and it has been found to kill 40,000 Americans annually. The World Health Organization wrote that “all types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis.”

Despite the clear science, Trump has long supported the use of asbestos going back to his days as real estate developer. In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback,” the future president wrote that asbestos is “100 percent safe, once applied,” despite the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the contrary.

Trump said this about asbestos in the book:

“I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented. Millions of truckloads of this incredible fire-proofing material were taken to special ‘dump sites’ and asbestos was replaced by materials that were supposedly safe but couldn’t hold a candle to asbestos in limiting the ravages of fire.”

Lawsuits against the Trump Administration

Ferguson has now filed 40 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 21 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Twelve of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other nine, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers and 3D-printed guns. No court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov