Here's an update on the situation with the California Green Chemistry Initiative's Safer Consumer Product Alternatives regulation development process.
At last week's Green Ribbon Science Panel meeting
, the new director, Debbie Raphael, former co-chair of the Green Ribbon Science Panel
, provided a near-term timeline and stated that her intention is to put a regulation in place that is, in her words, "practical, meaningful, and legally defensible."
- Practical: For both DTSC (California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substance Control) and industry. DTSC will not be able to add resources; the law (AB 1879) does not give it authority to charge for anything. The regulation must be implementable and understandable for industry.
- Meaningful: If this becomes only a paper-shuffling exercise, we're wasting our time. It must be meaningful to DTSC and the general public. I further take this to mean it must have net positive public health and environmental effects.
- Legally defensible: If DTSC gets sued, it needs to be confident that it will win.
Raphael feels that, since the process is already "outside the law" -- that is, the regulation was supposed to be in place by January 1, 2011, but the Schwarzenegger administration apparently gave DTSC the OK to miss the deadline -- we're no worse off now by trying to do it right, instead of simply trying to do it expediently. The current Brown administration, and also the various stakeholder groups it seems, is much more interested in supporting a good implementation rather than a fast one.
Raphael is reaching out to industry and other stakeholders over the next few months. Industry is interacting -- for better or worse -- with DTSC on this regulatory development project primarily through a single lobbying entity called the Green Chemistry Alliance, though some manufacturers and industry associations are participating outside GCA. The defined timeline is as follows:
- Mid-October: Release of an informal regulation for public review. This is not a "draft" or a "preliminary" regulation. This will precede the formal regulatory process and be for review and discussion.
- November 14-15: The GRSP will be convened in Sacramento to discuss the informal regulation document.
- Between now and mid-October: DTSC will hold stakeholder meetings to discuss non-scientific issues.
The way DTSC is approaching this finally feels "right" to me; it is addressing the really big and thorny technical issues head on, asking the right questions, and enabling good scientific and engineering debate at the GRSP meetings. This is a very difficult regulation to write, since it breaks new ground and is hampered by a poorly-written law (AB 1879), but Ms. Raphael's background, capabilities, and temperament lead me to believe that we will have a positive outcome.