Formaldehyde ban bill dies a listing bill is born

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 25, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 509 (Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto), was defeated on May 14th on a 4-7-1 vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  It targeted products of the composite wood industry and required formaldehyde limits that were so unusually strict that the bill amounted to a ban.  Legislators were inclined to agree with the bill’s opponents (including CMTA) that a decision to ban this chemical is better left to scientists.

The bill, however, was quickly "gutted and amended" (all text removed and new text inserted).  SB 509 now requires a manufacturer or wholesaler of a consumer product to post on their website, on or before March 1, 2008, a list of all substances, toxic or not, if more than 1/10 of 1% is contained in the product.  

This bill has a number of problems.  A manufacturer or wholesaler that does not currently maintain a website would be required to establish one.  Determining the identity of every substance present in each product produced will be burdensome and costly.  The timetable for compliance is extremely short.  (Even the European Union gave companies 6 to 8 years to identify just the six substances required under their Restriction of Hazardous Substances, ROHS, program.)  Reporting substances which are not toxic may induce public fear.  

There is also an issue of confidentiality.  Information released under this bill may give competitors valuable product information.  Also, California companies will be at a competitive disadvantage to manufacturers of the same product in other states and countries.  

SB 509 is still in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Since the current text does not include an enforcement provision and has no fiscal impact to the State, it is likely to be transferred directly to the Senate Floor without discussion. Enforcement provisions will probably be amended into the bill after the deadline for passing fiscal bills to the floor has passed.  

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