(February 25, 2011) To be effective, the state’s green chemistry regulations should be predictable and provide certainty for businesses that must comply, the California Chamber of Commerce said at a recent legislative hearing.
During the hearing, CalChamber Policy Advocate Robert Callahan stressed the importance of implementing the green chemistry program in a way that will enhance public health, protect the environment and promote innovation, while not adversely affecting jobs and the economy.
Green Chemistry Program
In 2008, AB 1879 (Feuer; D-Los Angeles) and SB 509 (Simitian; D-Palo Alto) authorized the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to identify chemicals of concern, study them, prioritize chemicals of concern, and regulate certain products that contain these chemicals.
Last September, the DTSC released its first draft of the proposed “Safer Consumer Product Alternatives” regulation, which established a highly complex approach to identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern in consumer products, and regulating their future use based on exposure to consumers and the environment.
As a result of input from a broad array of stakeholders, including the CalChamber, DTSC revised the proposed regulation in November 2010. Due to lingering concerns over the November version, however, the department decided to delay adoption of the regulations until stakeholders could reconvene in 2011 and the remaining issues could be resolved.
Assembly Committee Hearing
California has the tremendous opportunity to ensure that green chemistry is done right the first time, Callahan told the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.
The state must now carefully craft a green chemistry program that will meet the goals of enhanced environmental protection and public health in a way that will not negatively affect business, he said.
The CalChamber continues to hope that the process of developing the green chemistry program ultimately will lead to “a chemicals management system that inspires innovation and relies on science, not politics, as the basis for its decisions,” Callahan said.
CalChamber Policy Advocate Robert Callahan testifies that, to be effective, the state’s green chemistry regulations should be predictable and provide certainty for businesses that must comply.
Photo by Megan Wood
He warned that an overly broad and ambiguous rule will lead to fewer resources being available to address products where real risk reductions may be possible.
“An overly broad focus will lead to time spent regulating products which offer only marginal risk reduction possibilities,” Callahan said. “This will result in greatly expanded regulatory burdens on businesses, on cost for the regulated entities, and ultimately less protection for health and the environment.”
Regulatory reform is on the forefront of policy makers’ agendas throughout the country, he said. Accordingly, the CalChamber urged the state to take the time to implement a better regulation and to strengthen its regulatory development process by adequately addressing and considering alternative regulatory concepts that are less costly or burdensome.
Regulators also need more information, such as analyses of the economic impact and cost-effectiveness of proposed rules, to guide their decision making, Callahan said.
“We don’t want to come back here three years from now and say that green chemistry is in desperate need of reform or streamlining,” Callahan said. “It’s time to stop calling for regulations that cannot work.”
Callahan stressed that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive concepts.
“California taxpayers and consumers deserve a real-world approach to green chemistry—one that will actually improve consumer safety and respect the needs of a struggling economy,” Callahan said.
Staff Contact: Robert Callahan