Review of the ABA Conference: "Chemicals Regulation: REACHing for TSCA Reform"

TSCA Reform, Green Chemistry:

Last week, on Friday, June 11, I attended the ABA conference: “Chemicals Regulation:  REACHing for TSCA Reform.”  In my opinion, the conference was a success.  It was well-attended by a range of stakeholders and the speakers’ topics were generally interesting.  Blake Biles did a fantastic job in his opening remarks setting the context in which TSCA was passed in 1976 and the challenges that EPA has faced implementing the statue.  All in all, I think the conference was worth the investment.

The conference provided a brief overview of the Congressional bills to modify TSCA and more detail regarding the role of states in chemicals regulation, the recent green chemistry initiatives, and some of the legal issues that go beyond regulatory compliance.  If anyone would like a copy of the agenda, which includes a biography (of sorts) of supplementary reading material, please let me know.  The suite of conference materials is probably available from the ABA.

I was a little disappointed that the speakers did not cover the mechanics of the new bills in any detail, however.  Presumably this was because they felt that it was premature to do so. In other words, they probably expect the final legislation to differ from what’s currently proposed. Based on what I’m hearing, I would generally agree with that conclusion. However, the recent convergence of chemical industry executives on Capitol Hill suggests that there may be some residual concern about the bills passing this session in something similar to their present form, so more discussion of the mechanics would have been helpful to some attendees, I’m sure.

Reminder: June 9 California DTSC Symposium on Alternatives Analysis

Green Chemistry:

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is convening a symposium tomorrow on alternatives analysis in Sacramento and via webcast.  The DTSC reminder for the symposium is set out below.

“DTSC: Green Chemistry Initiative

There is still time to join the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the outstanding slate of speakers gathered for Alternatives Analysis Symposium I: Issues and Evolution, Capitalizing on Success tomorrow, June 9, 2010, in Sacramento and via web cast. We will expand the dialogue on the alternatives analysis process for chemicals used in consumer products – a core element of the California Green Chemistry Initiative – and identify opportunities for chemical alternatives analysis through the lens of organizations implementing successful policies and programs.

Presenters include:

Jay Bolus – McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC); Clive Davies – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Design for the Environment (DfE) program Lauren Heine, Ph.D. – Clean Production; Action Libby Sommer – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DfE program; Alex Stone, Sc.D. – Washington State Department of Ecology; Donald J. Versteeg, Ph.D. – Procter & Gamble.

Join us for any or all in the Byron Sher Auditorium inside the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building or via web cast.  See the agenda, download presentations, register and find web cast information at: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/GreenChemistryInitiative/Alternative-Analysis-1-Symposium.cfm.”

California Non-Profit Formed to Certify the Sustainability of Products

Green Chemisty:

On May 20, 2010, Google held a public event at its headquarters in Mountain View, California to announce the launch of the non-profit, the Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII).  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, several top Google executives, and other notables attended the event.  The Institute was formed to help companies comply with California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, as well as to advance the safety and sustainability of consumer products generally.  The Institute will certify products meeting certain criteria and will provide a publicly-accessible database to help companies identify alternatives to chemicals of potential concern.

GPII appears to enjoy the support of California regulators and several large companies, and its work programs are responsive to current market demands, so readers of this blog may want to follow GPII and its initiatives.  Whether the Institute will succeed in accomplishing its larger goals or instead merely implement a program with niche appeal remains to be seen.  Further details about GPII are set out below.

Product Certification

GPII will use the so-called “cradle-to-cradle” (C2C) framework developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) to establish a rating system. Products meeting the rating system’s criteria will receive the Institute’s C2C certification mark, indicating that the product has been designed or re-designed for sustainability.  GPII will train assessors, called “Licensed Assessment Partners (LAPs),” to assist companies in complying with protocol and meeting the ratings criteria, but also to advise on compliance with California’s Green Chemistry regulations.  LAPs will submit their product assessments to GPII for review and approval before the Institute will issue the C2C certifications.

The C2C framework is intended to reduce waste through innovative product design.  The goal is to enable product components and end-of-life products to be capable of use as raw materials for other products or as nutrients for ecosystems.  The framework has five criteria that GPII’s rating system will build upon.  Products will be evaluated for compliance with criteria in each of the following categories:  (1) safe and appropriately sourced materials; (2) material reutilization; (3) renewable energy; (4) access to and release of abundant, clean water; and (5) social responsibility.  After the GPII has rated a product and issued the C2C certification, the Institute will continue to work with a company to identify opportunities for improvement across each of the five categories.

Public Database

In addition to its product certification, GPII is developing a database that tracks product chemical data and also creates a list of “positive” alternative chemicals, materials, and processes.   According to GPII’s website, the database is intended to help companies reformulate or retool to create new products and to augment the Toxics Information Clearinghouse being developed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) as part of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative.  DTSC and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) have expressed interest in using the database to help provide stakeholders with data on the toxicity characteristics of chemicals and materials used in products.

The database will be compiled from information companies share with the Institute about the chemicals and materials, along with manufacturing processes, used to produce their products.  The database will be partially proprietary, and partially collaborative and public.  The proprietary portion consists of a detailed review of the makeup of a product.  The characteristics of individual chemicals and materials, disassociated from product formulations, will become public.  It’s not clear from GPII’s website whether receipt of the C2C product certification will be conditioned on reaching an agreement to publicly share data.

* * * *

Additional information about GPII is available here.

Upcoming Meeting of California's Green Ribbon Science Panel

Green Chemistry – California:

For those readers interested in learning more about California’s Green Chemistry Initiative and the State’s draft regulations for safer products, you might be interested in participating via webcast in the upcoming Green Ribbon Science Panel’s meeting where the regulations will be discussed.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) just circulated the following reminder to its listserv:

“DTSC will convene the Green Ribbon Science Panel (GRSP) on May 12 – 13, 2010 to receive input on the outline of the Draft Regulations for Safer Products and on concepts to expand DTSC’s pollution prevention program as addressed in the California Green Chemistry Initiative Final Report. The meeting will be held in Sacramento and be available via webcast.

May 12, 2010, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT May 13, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT

See information about the GRSP, the agenda, how to participate and provide input at:

http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/GreenChemistryInitiative/GreenRibbon.cfm

. . . .

The meeting will be webcast at: http://www.dgs.ca.gov/Webcasts.htm

To view and comment on the outline of the Draft Regulations for Safer Products go to: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/GreenChemistryInitiative/safer_products_regs_outline.cfm

To subscribe to or unsubscribe from the DTSC Green Chemistry Initiative Listserv or other Listservs, please go to http://www.calepa.ca.gov/listservs/dtsc.  For information on DTSC`s Green Chemistry Initiative, go to http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/GreenChemistryInitiative/index.cfm

Bills to Modernize TSCA Could Advance Green Chemistry

TSCA Reform, Green Chemistry:

As many readers know, the recent Senate and House bills to modernize TSCA include provisions to advance green chemistry.  However, funding and other potential obstacles could frustrate this objective.  A short summary of each provision is set out below.

Introduction

The Senate and House bills were released on April 15.  The Senate bill was introduced while the House bill remains a discussion draft.  Both bills include a section entitled, “Safer Alternatives and Green Chemistry and Engineering.”  (See sections 32 and 36 in the Senate and House versions, respectively.)  Each would establish a Safer Alternatives Program, a Green Chemistry Research Network, and a Green Chemistry and Engineering Research Grants Program.  The Senate version goes further and would establish a Green Chemistry Workforce Education and Training Program.  A short discussion of each of these is set out below.

What is Green Chemistry?

Although neither bill defines green chemistry, EPA’s current definition would likely inform its future implementation of either proposal, if enacted into law.  According to EPA, green chemistry is “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.  Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use.”  In other words, green chemistry is chemistry designed to reduce the environmental and human health impacts across a product’s lifecycle.  The Agency relies on 12 principles of green chemistry to clarify and implement its definition.  These principles were first established by Paul Anastas and John Warner in their book, Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York (1998).

The Safer Alternatives Program

This program would require EPA, within one year of enactment of the law, “to create market incentives for the development of safer alternatives to existing chemical substances that reduce or avoid the use and generation of hazardous substances.”  The program would include at least three components: (1) expedited review of new chemicals for which an alternatives analysis indicates that the new chemical is the safer alternative for a particular use than existing chemicals used for the same purpose; (2) recognition, such as a special designation for marketing, or an award, for a chemical or product that EPA determines to be a safer alternative, and (3) other incentives EPA considers appropriate to encourage the development, marketing, and use of safer alternatives.

Of the three components of the Safer Alternatives Program, the expedited review of new chemicals seems the most promising from a near-term commercial perspective.  However, its ”success” – measured by the number of new, safer alternatives reaching the market in an expedited manner – may depend more on the complexity of the alternatives analysis and less on how “expedited” the review is once the Agency receives the analysis in a new chemical notification.  Under its Design for the Environment (DfE) Program, EPA has developed considerable expertise with alternatives assessment, so the Agency may be inclined to follow a similar approach in the Safer Alternatives Program.  Yet participating in the DfE alternatives assessment process can be time-consuming and expensive.  Accordingly, EPA faces a considerable challenge.  Specifically, the Agency must develop a framework for the alternatives analysis that is less expensive and time-consuming in terms of the minimum data set and analysis than a standard new chemical notification, but also enables the Agency to utilize its expertise in alternatives assessment to ensure that only truly safer chemicals are approved.  If EPA instead merely shortens its review period, and does not streamline the alternatives assessment, the objectives of the program may not be accomplished.  Thus, much depends on the Agency’s implementation.

The Green Chemistry Research Network

This program would consist of at least four green chemistry and engineering research centers, located in different regions throughout the United States, that would “support the development and adoption of safer alternatives” to potentially hazardous chemicals, particularly those included on the Section 6(a) priority list.  (In the bills, this is a rolling list of 300 chemicals that EPA would prioritize for risk assessments, called “safety determinations.”)

The Green Chemistry and Engineering Research Grants Program

This program would require EPA to make grants “to promote and support the research, development and adoption of safer alternatives….”  Funding is the Achilles’ heel of this program.

The Green Chemistry Workforce Education and Training Program

This program would require EPA to “facilitate the development of a workforce, including industrial and scientific workers, that produces safer alternatives to existing chemical substances.”  The goals of this program include the: (1) expansion of green chemistry; (2) development of scientific and technical leadership in green chemistry; (3) successful and safe integration of green chemistry into infrastructure projects; (4) informing communities about the benefits of green chemistry; and (5) promotion of innovation and strong public health and environmental protections.  To accomplish these objectives, EPA would be required to make grants, provide outreach, and form partnerships with educational institutions, training organizations, private sector companies, and community organizations.  Again, adequate funding is critical to success.

* * * *

All of these are laudable programs – and hopefully they will be included in some form in the final legislation – but, as noted above, there remain unanswered questions and the success of some of these programs depends on the ability and willingness of Congress to continue to provide adequate funding.

14th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

Green Chemistry:

The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) will hold the 14th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 21 – 23, 2010.  Pasted below is a summary of the conference, excerpted from the ACS GCI website.  For more information, follow the link embedded below the summary.

“The 14th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference returns to downtown Washington, DC.  With the theme “Innovation and Application” and with one of the renowned founders of green chemistry, Dr. John Warner (President and CTO, Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry) as the chair, this conference is shaping up to be one you won’t want to miss! Confirmed keynote speakers include the popular environmentalist, entrepreneur and author Paul Hawken; 2005 Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Robert Grubbs; Senior Vice President of Research and Technology at 3M, Mr. Steven Webster; and US Congressman John Tierney (D-MA), co-sponsor of the “Green Jobs Act.”

Schedule

(subject to change)

Monday

  • Keynote address presented by Paul Hawken (renowned environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author who leads the Highwater Research LLC and Natural Capital Institute)
  • Technical Sessions
  • Exhibits
  • Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony (pre-registration required)

Tuesday

  • Technical Sessions
  • Luncheon with guest speaker US Congressman John Tierney (D-MA, co-sponsor of the “Green Jobs Act”)
  • Keynote address presented by Robert Grubbs, 2005 Nobel Prize winner
  • Poster Session
  • Exhibits
  • Reception

Wednesday

  • Keynote address presented by Mr. Steven Webster (Senior Vice President Research and Technology Commercialization, 3M)
  • Technical Sessions
  • Exhibits
  • Closing session keynote address presented by Dr. John Warner (President and CTO, Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry)

Thursday

  • Student Workshop (pre-registration required)”

http://acswebcontent.acs.org/gcande/

Welcome!

Welcome to the Green Chemistry Law Report, a legal blog produced by Verdant Law, PLLC, a boutique environmental and sustainability law firm in Washington, D.C.  Although located in the United States capital, Verdant has a global perspective, providing high-quality, personalized legal services to domestic and foreign clients on matters at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as those arising internationally.

Green Chemistry and Chemicals Management is one of the Firm’s principal areas of practice.  Because this is a rapidly evolving area, articles and conference speeches are not as well-suited to a timely discussion of the issues as a legal blog is.  Therefore, the Firm is launching the Green Chemistry Law Report to provide timely, in-depth coverage of regulatory issues concerning chemicals and products, and hopefully serve as a forum for discussing them.  Here you will find analysis and commentary on the latest legal and regulatory developments, as well as notices about news and events. Some of the topics the Report will cover include:

  • TSCA Reform,
  • REACh,
  • Product stewardship,
  • CEPA, 1999 and
  • California’s Green Chemistry Initiative.

So, check back frequently and actively participate.  And again, Welcome to the Green Chemistry Law Report!