TERU Focus Report - DTSC Green Chemistry Hearing

Report on 11/01/2010 DTSC Hearing on Proposed Green Chemistry Regs 
November 2, 2010 --

DTSC Green ChemistryThe California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) held a public hearing on November 1, 2010 to hear testimony regarding their proposed Regulation for Safer Consumer Products, implementing amendments to the Health & Safety Code from passage of AB 1851 and SB 509. This hearing followed on last week's convening of the California Environmental Policy Council (CEPC) covered in our previous Focus Report. Last week's CEPC obligatory session "conclusively determined" that no further environmental multimedia assessment was necessary for the DTSC's proposed process for the implementing regulations. This Monday's DTSC meeting simply sought public testimony into the formal record of the Rulemaking with little agency preamble. The hearing was part of a process of over two years of DTSC-led stakeholder and public involvement; the formal Notice for the Hearing contains 30+ pages of detailed explanation of the process, and the proposed regulations. All testimony was recorded, and all comments will be available through the DTSC's Rulemaking process at a later date. The 45-day Public Comment period ended at 5:00 PM that afternoon; our formal written comments are posted here for your review. 

About 25 speakers stepped to the podium to provide testimony (in 3 minute sound bites) to the DTSC. Represented were most industrial sectors that do business in California; everyone agreed that SOMETHING needed to change and in general applauded the concept of the Green Chemistry Initiative. Many, if not most present, had been engaged in the development process from the start. Yet by my count, all but two opposed the regulations as proposed. 
A sampling of the comments can be enlightening: Hewlett-Packard referred to compliance problems with California's Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and the need for industry-wide notification and assessment mechanisms. The Automobile manufacturing representatives pointed out that requirements needed to filter down to their suppliers, and this took considerably more time than allowed in the regulations. The National Products Association felt the coverage was far too broad, the listing mechanisms haphazard, and the program structure punitive rather than incentive-based. The American Cleaning Institute referred to the proposed regulatory program as a "child out of control", citing specific missing legal necessities for clarity and confidentiality. The Toy industry representative called for identification and clear definition of "reasonable and foreseeable exposure" as an underlying determinant; the American Coatings Association noted the costs and time associated with this level of mandatory research and development, the massive scale of DTSC's data management need, and the general lack of support for Small Business. 
Perhaps it is understandable, even expected, that Big Business should gripe and complain about a state oversight program. They were not standing alone however. A San Francisco Bay area Clean Water group noted a total lack of protection for their waste water treatment plants, and asked that a program that considers the entire suite of Priority chemicals commonly polluting our waterways be brought into the regulations from the federal Clean Water Act. The California Chamber of Commerce representing 15,000 California businesses, was more brutal, saying the proposal failed to deliver on even the most fundamental goals of the bills passed, and solely focused on disincentives rather than promoting positive change. The Center for Environmental Health, with 62,000 signatories that strongly support the Green Chemistry Initiative, said the focus should be on the chemical "known bad actors". Most notable, the Green Chemistry Alliance itself was one of the most vocal in its opposition: no objective standards for assessment, a punitive structure where incentives are needed, clear legal mandate for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report, and no way to tell what is "safe" if everything was suspect. 
Humorous, in its own twisted way: it is so very seldom that we find the California Sierra Club dismissing the need for further environmental assessment. 
The comment period was officially closed at 5:00 pm on November 1, 2010, the day of the public hearing, and no action was taken at the meeting. DTSC may adopt the proposed regulations. They may also modify the regulations based upon the numerous comments they received, and if the revisions are substantial, will be released again for public comment.
Update: Proposed revisions were released for public comment with a 2 week review period. Comments are due December 3, 2010.
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© Teru Talk by JDMT, Inc 2010. All rights reserved.

You are free to reprint and use this report as long as no changes are made to its content or references and credit is given to the author, Michael Theroux. http://www.terutalk.com


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