Green Chemistry Initiative under Review in Schwarzenegger’s Final Days

by | Dec 28, 2010

Environmental groups in California are crying foul on a number of last-minute activities of departing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to the Los Angeles Times, including revisions to the state’s two-year long effort to regulate toxic chemicals in consumer products that “were a particular letdown to environmental activists.”

California’s Green Chemistry Initiative makes it the first state to consider such major, comprehensive green-chemistry regulations. The law, which would keep carcinogens out of products for children under 12, household cleaners and personal care items, was supposed to go into effect in January, but the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control missed a deadline Sunday to pass the current version, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The DTSC revised the rules last month because companies threatened to sue if forced to share the chemical makeup of their products, according to earlier reporting from the Associated Press.

The next round of discussions is slated to begin in early 2011, and environmental groups are accusing the Schwarzenegger administration of “putting the industry-friendly changes on a fast track before the inauguration of Jerry Brown, who may not be as business-friendly,” writes the Times.

Critics consider the current draft a step back from the initiative’s goals because: manufacturers can replace known harmful chemicals with others that have not yet proven safe; regulations address only chemicals in the final product without assessing the manufacturing process; and the burden of proof for toxicity rests with regulators, and not manufacturers, the Chronicle reported.

“As written, these regulations would have provided a greenwashing opportunity to those companies not committed to protecting public health and the environment, while doing nothing to encourage safer products in California,” said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, according to the Chronicle.

The DTSC will reconvene its scientific advisory panel, due to the concerns of “a wide range of stakeholders, including those from industry, environmental groups, scientists and legislative leaders,” wrote Linda Adams, Secretary for Environmental Protection, in a letter posted on the DTSC web site.

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