11th-Hour Scramble Foils California Chemical Lobby
Bill Allayaud, EWG California Director of Government Affairs
Outgoing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed poised to give a nice holiday gift to the chemical industry - weak Green Chemistry program regulations that would not ensure consumers get safer products, as the state's 2008 green chemistry law intended.
But a funny - and fortunate - thing happened as the Schwarzenegger administration was packing up. On Dec. 23, 11 days before Jerry Brown was to be inaugurated as California's new governor, Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda Adams shelved the loophole-ridden draft rules and ordered that they be rewritten with the explicit help of the state's respected Green Ribbon Science Panel.
The rationale behind Adams' last minute order has not been made public, but knowledgeable sources gave EWG this account:
In early November, state environmental officials drafted a set of regulations that the environmental community found, though not perfect, acceptable. The chemical industry pushed back hard, complaining that the rules would prove far too burdensome. Soon thereafter, state officials alerted us that they were about to release a new "streamlined" draft.
It is common knowledge that Schwarzenegger and his chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, are very close to the Chamber of Commerce and its big business members, who have donated considerable amounts to the governor's political efforts. Reliable sources both inside and outside the Capitol told us that it was Schwarzenegger's staff that ordered the hurried rewrite. Sure enough, the revised draft was a big win for Proctor and Gamble, Chevron, Dupont, and Dow, among others. On Dec. 2, the industry alliance issued a letter that amounted to an end-zone dance.
But while product manufacturers liked the new approach, several members of the Green Ribbon Science Panel complained it was terribly flawed. Assembly member Mike Feuer, the legislative architect of the Green Chemistry program, expressed "profound disappointment" with the turn of events.