California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills moving the state toward a comprehensive green chemistry program to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals in products and the environment.
AB 1879 is jointly authored by Assemblymembers Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and co-authored by Assemblymembers Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim) and Senators Simitian and Ron Calderon (D-Montebello). SB 509 by Simitian was co-authored by Assemblymember Feuer and Senator Ron Calderon.
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.
The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel made up of experts to provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies, as well as ensuring implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation. Moreover, it expands the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of the heads of all California Environmental Protection Agency boards and departments, to oversee critical activities related to the implementation of the green chemistry program.
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 every day.
This bi-partisan package of environmental legislation propels California to the forefront of the nation and the world with the most comprehensive Green Chemistry program ever established. It also puts an end to the less effective chemical-by-chemical bans of the past. With these two bills, we will stop looking at toxics as an inevitable byproduct of industrial production. Instead they will be something that can be removed from every product in the design stage-protecting people’s health and our environment. I am excited to lead this effort, which will spur a new era of research and innovation and promises to drive economic growth and competition in the green chemistry sector.—Governor Schwarzenegger
At the Governor’s request, the Secretary for Environmental Protection has established a Green Chemistry Initiative to develop policy options for implementing a green chemistry program. Instead of making chemical policy through the Legislature on a case-by-case basis, the goal of this initiative is to work with scientists from California and around the world to evaluate the health effects of chemicals and possible alternatives with a systematic and comprehensive approach that is science-based. AB 1879 and SB 509 build on this initiative and contain provisions to implement two of six key recommendations from the upcoming Green Chemistry Initiative - Phase Two Report to be released later this fall.