An historic lawsuit looks set to end water fluoridation across the United States once and for all, as a federal court has given the go-ahead for citizens to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency.
Food and Water Watch Inc. filed a lawsuit against the agency after the EPA rejected a citizens petition calling on them to ban the process of adding fluoride to drinking water.
Natlawreview.com reports: In its decision, the court denied the EPA’s motion for a protective order by rejecting the argument that courts should be limited to reviewing information originally presented in the administrative proceeding giving rise to the suit.
The court’s decision hinged on a provision of the TSCA stating that, in any challenge, “the petitioner shall be provided an opportunity to have such petition considered by the court in a de novo proceeding.” 15 U.S.C. § 2620(b)(4)(B). The EPA argued in support of its motion that “such petition” should be interpreted as limiting the scope of review to evidence in the underlying administrative record, while plaintiffs argued that the phrase “de novo proceeding” requires a less restrictive interpretation.
In denying the EPA’s motion, the court specifically held that the phrase “de novo proceeding” indicates that Congress intended a broad scope of review because the word “proceeding” encompasses all regular activities of a lawsuit, including discovery beyond the administrative record. Because the purpose of the TSCA is to protect the public from chemicals that pose unreasonable risks to health and the environment, the court held that “[a] de novo proceeding in district court modeled after traditional trial-like proceedings would not conflict with the purpose of the TSCA, but would instead effectuate it.”
The court’s ruling guarantees that any trial of this matter will be far broader than what the EPA preferred. Given that the fluoridation of water in the U.S. is commonplace, we will keep an eye on how this case unfolds.
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