CA’s Safer Consumer Products regulations (almost) finalized.

California’s Safer Consumer Products final regulations were generally approved by the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) and filed with the Secretary of State on August 28. As we have previously discussed, the Safer Consumer Products program establishes a statewide system that implements a key element of the California Green Chemistry Initiative: accelerating the use of safer products through a science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and identify safer alternatives. To recap, this process consists of four steps:

  1. The regulations establish a starting list of about 1,200 Candidate Chemicals based on the work of other authoritative organizations. DTSC will identify additional Candidate Chemicals.
  2. DTSC will evaluate and prioritize Candidate Chemical/consumer product combinations to develop a list of “Priority Products.”
  3. Manufacturers (or other responsible entities, such as importers or retailers) of Priority Products must notify DTSC when their product is listed as a Priority Product and conduct Alternatives Analyses.
  4. DTSC will identify and implement regulatory responses designed to protect public health and the environment and maximize the use of acceptable and feasible alternatives.

The regulations that will set this process in motion will go into effect starting October 1, 2013.

We discussed the development of these regulations in April and February of this year. DTSC made further revisions based on the April proposal after receiving feedback from the OAL, which are generally minor.

Although most of DTSC’s proposed regulations were approved, the OAL disapproved [PDF] three minor provisions of the regulations for failing to meet standards for clarity. In response, DTSC has proposed revisions which would re-add those provisions with minor drafting changes, and emphasized the necessity for their inclusion in order to maintain flexibility in collecting information and to maximize transparency while protecting validly claimed trade secrets. The first provision specifies that documents submitted to DTSC must be in English and in “an electronic format accessible” to the agency, while the other two provisions specify how DTSC will handle trade secret claims, and how submitting parties can dispute the agency’s trade secrecy determination. DTSC will be accepting comments on these revisions through September 9, 2013; the 15-day notice discussing the revisions is here [PDF] and the revised text is here [PDF].

A Look Back at the Senate’s TSCA Reform Hearing and Reactions.

Last month, we reported that the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works had scheduled a full-committee hearing on various legislative proposals to reform TSCA. The hearing on July 31 consisted of three panels with a total of 19 witnesses including public health advocates, legal and health experts, representatives from state government and the private sector. The hearings and archived webcast are available online.

At the hearing, Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) expressed her continued support for the Safe Chemicals Act (S. 696) and criticized the bipartisan Chemical Security Improvement Act (“CSIA,” S. 1009). Sen. Boxer took particular issue with the legislation’s effect on preempting state laws such as California’s Proposition 65, but nevertheless, vowed to continue working on the bill with the hope of enacting TSCA reform as soon as possible. Senator David Vitter (R-LA), a co-author of CSIA, said that he was already at work with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) on amending his legislation to address the preemption concern.

Since the hearing, Congress has been in recess and there has been little news on how the amendment process is going. In the meantime, the CSIA’s advocates and detractors continue to make their case in the public forum. Last week, Steve Owens, who served as EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention during President Obama’s first term, wrote on RealClearPolicy in support of the bill. Owens played down preemption concerns, arguing that TSCA was originally intended to preempt state efforts and that the CSIA provides for states to apply to EPA for a waiver that would keep state laws in place. He also pointed out that the CSIA’s sponsors had pledged to amend the bill to address other preemption issues. Earlier this month, Alex Formuzis of the Environmental Working Group criticized the CSIA and called on members of the public health and environmental community to rally behind Sen. Boxer’s efforts in shepherding strong TSCA reform legislation to the Senate floor. In California, state legislators introduced a mostly symbolic resolution that calls on Congress and the President to “respect the rights of states to protect the health of their citizens” and not enact the CSIA in its current form.