Lawmakers, Researchers, Doctors Reject Schwarzenegger’s Flawed Green Chemistry Proposal

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, December 15, 2010



Oakland, Calif. – Lawmakers, public health advocates, scientists, public utility managers and medical doctors are demanding that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger withdraw his administration’s proposed Green Chemistry regulations.

An earlier version of the regulations had the qualified support of a broad array of stakeholders, but the state Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) gutted the proposed rules at the last minute, prompting key creators and supporters of the California Green Chemistry Initiative to withdraw their endorsement.

Among those now calling for withdrawal of the proposed regulations are: Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-L.A.), author of the California Green Chemistry law (AB 1879) that created the program; the two lead authors of a 2008 University of California report titled Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California; and several members of the Green Ribbon Science Panel that was overseeing development of the regulations.

“The revised proposal not only fails to address the flaws of the earlier version but compounds them by fundamentally altering the approach called for under legislation I authored,” Feuer wrote in a Dec. 3 letter to the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Thirty-three organizations wrote to the governor on Tuesday (Dec. 14) calling on him to “take immediate action to stop implementation of the draft regulations” because they do not meet the intent of the Green Chemistry legislation and no longer have the support of the scientific, environmental, and public health communities or the state’s academic and legislative green chemistry champions.

The law mandates that the regulations be completed by Jan. 1, 2011. Missing this deadline would be unfortunate, but implementing the regulations in their current form would have even graver implications.

“It would be better for the people of California if Governor Schwarzenegger left this on the governor-elect’s plate instead of moving forward with this half-baked proposal that will continue to expose families to dangerous chemicals,” said Renee Sharp, director of EWG’s California office.

Among other defects, the new regulations would:

-- set an extremely high bar for the state to take action on a dangerous chemical by requiring proof of harm, which can be difficult to demonstrate when a substance causes subtle changes such as irregularities in infant brain development

-- expand the loophole for proprietary information so that chemical makers can shield even more data on safety testing than current law allows

-- exempt from regulation chemicals found in concentrations of less than 1,000 parts per million

-- fail to provide credible independent scientific review of chemical manufacturers’ assessments of alternatives to chemicals under scrutiny

-- offer no fast track to get particularly dangerous chemicals out of products

-- limit the jurisdiction of the California Department of Toxics Substances Control to three narrow categories of products until 2016

-- place off-limits chemicals that other federal or state programs regulate

-- exempt nanomaterials from regulation.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.