DTSC: Cost of Safer Consumer Products Rules Is Unknowable.
The agency charged with implementing California’s Safer Consumer Products (“SCP”) regulations has concluded that the program’s costs cannot be determined until the rules are in place.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) released its Economic and Fiscal Impact Statement [PDF] for its proposed SCP regulations on May 22. DTSC cited the SCP program’s “number of unknowable factors” in explaining why the agency could not estimate the number of businesses affected or the total costs to the private sector.
The agency characterized the proposed rules as “process regulations” which would not directly affect any products or chemicals, and thus would not have any significant impacts on the private sector.
As we have previously discussed, the proposed SCP regulations create a system for prioritizing and evaluating chemicals in products with the goal of limiting exposure or reducing hazards posed by a chemical of concern.
DTSC noted that an Economic and Fiscal Impact Statement – along with other standard elements of the rulemaking process – would be completed for each product-chemical combination that the agency proposes to list as a Priority Product. Thus, specific costs and benefits would be identified and evaluated in a piecemeal, product-by-product manner.
The agency also argued that impacts could not be accurately estimated in part because of the flexibility built into the SCP program, which offers many options to both the regulator and the regulated community. For example, if a certain product is listed as a Priority Product, the manufacturer (or other responsible entity) may choose whether to conduct an Alternatives Assessment, stop using the chemical of concern, replace the product, or remove it entirely from the California market. DTSC will not be able to determine its own regulatory response – with its attendant costs – until after the manufacturer makes its “selection decision.”
The DTSC’s Economic and Fiscal Impact Statement did not provide an estimate for the number or percentage of impacted businesses which constitute small businesses; the agency explained that it had not determined the extent of information it needs to request from companies in order to implement the SCP regulations. Nevertheless, DTSC concluded that only “insignificant” costs would be incurred by those companies which choose to provide information requested by the agency.
Likewise, DTSC claims that no businesses or jobs would be created or eliminated by the proposed rules since they are “process regulations.” DTSC also asserts that the rules will not negatively impact California businesses’ competitiveness because the “process regulations” would not by themselves directly increase the cost of producing any particular product.
The 15-day comment period for the Economic and Fiscal Impact Statement is open through June 6, 2013. The agency’s public notice, containing additional details on commenting, is available online [PDF].