Sacramento, Calif. — Earlier this week, California became the first state to enact a green chemistry program when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the AB 1879 and SB 509 bills into law that call for the reduction or elimination of hazardous chemicals in products and the environment.
"The Green Chemistry Initiative is a 180-degree shift in how the chemical industry is regulated in the United States," said Peter Hsiao, a member of the Environmental and Cleantech practices at law firm Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles, in a statement. He currently serves on the Standing Committee on Environmental Law for the American Bar Association, and is the former Chair of the California State Bar Environmental Law Section. "The state intends to make businesses show that their use and disposal of chemicals is safe, signifying a paradigm shift where companies essentially ask for permission, not forgiveness, when introducing chemicals into the stream of commerce. It may be the most far-reaching chemical regulatory law in the U.S."
Hsiao said the initiative's impact on businesses will be immediate. "Since the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control will be granted statutory authority to promulgate rules regarding the regulation of chemicals by January 2011, many manufacturers will now have to be prepared to revamp not only their products' design and production plans, but also their sales and marketing approaches," he stated.
AB 1879 establishes authority for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop regulations that create a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern and to create methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals. It also allows DTSC to take certain actions following an assessment that range from "no action" to "restrictions or bans."
SB 509 creates an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse, a web-based database, to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California.
Source: DTSC News 10/03/2008