TERU Focus Report - DTSC's Green Chemistry Regs

Due 10/26/2010 & 11/01/2010: Comments on Draft Green Chemistry Regs
October 21, 2010 --

DTSC Green ChemistryConversion of waste and biomass to hedgeable commodities is often more economical than simple heat recovery for energy: make a product you can store and sell when the market prices are right. The production of bio-sourced products, or bioproducts, is a key driver for Conversion Technology commercialization. California's "Green Chemistry Initiative" would benefit bioproducts, especially if and when Life Cycle Assessments are conducted and impacts are compared to petroleum based products.
But nothing is easy: the bills creating the Initiative required new regulations to implement it, and those proposed regulations carry some far-reaching hazards for Business. The proposed Regulation for Safer Consumer Products to implement the state’s recently enacted "Green Chemistry" laws have been released for public comment by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The original concept was certainly well meaning, but it's absolutely the worst possible timing to implement the unintended consequences of these regulations.
Two meetings, with separate opportunities for Public Comment, are fast approaching. A California Environmental Policy Council (CEPC) Hearing Notice provides an agenda for an October 27, 2010 meeting, and asks that public comments be submitted to the CEPC (mail or email) regarding the need for an additional impact assessment by noon on October 26, 2010 to Secretary Linda S. Adams, Chair, Environmental Policy Council (CEPC), cepc@calepa.ca.gov. The CEPC's public meeting on October 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm in the CalEPA building will hear DTSC's explanation, and decide if further assessment is needed to determine what "multi-media impacts" might be cause by DTSC's proposed regulations (no, "multi-media impacts" are not video game hazards, but are multiple environmental media of air, water, public health, etc.). Legal advisories are circulating that discuss the DTSC's proposals and CEPC's charge.
Public comment directly to the DTSC on the proposed regulations must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm on November 1, 2010 as detailed in the DTSC Public Notice.  DTSC's own formal meeting (also in the CalEPA building) on November 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm to solicit comments and conclude the comment period. In addition to CEPC's involvement, CalEPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) may also be brought in on the issue: the OEHHA is also formally reviewing the Green Chemistry laws. 

The well-meaning 2008 session's Assembly Bill 1879 and Senate Bill 509 were passed to promote use of safer, more environmentally friendly chemicals, and could dramatically boost non-petroleum based bioproducts. Yet impacts of DTSC's proposed regulations on business and industry would expand far beyond what most folks have considered: almost any company creating a "consumer product" would be required to submit their market data, product ingredients, formulations and quantities for agency assessment.

A number of issues remain unclear:  

1.   Will socio-economic impacts be evaluated? Is there to be a Socio-Economic Impact element, if CEPC determines a "multi-media" Impact Assessment is warranted?

2.   Do impact assessment-based Rulemakings out of the CEPC carry the same legal weight as would an impact assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act? In other words, are CEPC Rulemakings "CEQA-Equivalent"? 

3.   If not, is the CEPC considering a full CEQA impact assessment? 

4.   There appear to be collateral impacts to federally funded (ARRA) programs. Where federal lands, money, or personnel are affected, CEQA defers to its federal predecessor, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). NEPA impact assessments require consideration of Socio-Economic Impacts.

CEPC: Submit comments via email to  .Direct questions regarding the CEPC meeting agenda to Roberta Potter, 916-322-7315, DTSC: Submit comments or questions to Jeff Woled, DTSC Regulations Coordinator, 916-324-1808, . Comments may also be submitted using DTSC's online comment form.

CalEPA has assigned a very knowledgeable point person familiar with interagency issues: Patrick Sullivan, 916-324-8425

Also see:


© 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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