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Talks on Asbestos Bill End

Monday, May 10, 2004
The Republican Senate leadership's asbestos bailout bill appears dead for now, after negotiations stalled May 7. The bill would have denied thousands of Americans their day in court, reduced damage awards to victims of asbestos diseases, and run out of money well before the epidemic of asbestos deaths peak.

Until March, the bill appeared to be a slam-dunk. But the EWG Action Fund s investigation revealed that asbestos disease is growing a public health crisis and argued persuasively that any legislation should extend help to all the victims of asbestos.

Backers of the bill claimed that lawsuits by asbestos victims is bankrupting scores of U.S. companies and could even threaten the national economy. But the Action Fund s investigation found that "bankrupt" companies tell a different tale to Wall Street, calling their asbestos bankruptcies "good news" (Halliburton), with "little impact on day-to-day operations" (Babcock and Wilcox).

Despite what most Americans believe, asbestos is not banned and is still widely used in consumer products. More Americans die each year from cancers and other illnesses caused by asbestos than from fires and drowning combined. EWG Action Fund researchers recommend that the federal government ban asbestos immediately and look for a policy solution that will care for all victims - now and in the future.

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