Fluoride Trial Could Challenge EPA Authority

Bloomberg Law: EPA’s Chemical Regulation Authority at Stake With Fluoride Case

A legal battle over fluoride in drinking water could forge a new path for advocacy groups to challenge the EPA’s conclusions about a range of chemicals’ health risks, attorneys say.

Health advocacy groups, including Food and Water Watch Inc., the Fluoride Action Network, and Moms Against Fluoridation, argue fluoride is a neurotoxin. They unsuccessfully petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 to stop the decadeslong practice of adding it to drinking water.

The groups and EPA will virtually present their arguments in the resulting trial starting Monday in federal district court in San Francisco.

First to Trial

Some cases have used the same provision of TSCA to challenge the agency’s chemical risk assessments, but none have risen to a federal trial proceeding, said Michael Connett, a Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel attorney representing the plaintiffs.

“What we have learned in this case is that this is a very powerful provision of law,” Connett said.

Since the complaint isn’t being brought under the Administrative Procedure Act, as many challenges to agency decisions are, the court is unlikely to defer to the EPA’s authority, he said.

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