Bill resurrected from the dead

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 27, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

AB 289 (Wilma Chan, D-Oakland), Chemical Testing Methods, failed to garner enough support for passage on the Assembly floor last year and was subsequently made into a two year bill.  The original bill required manufacturers and importers of high production volume or reportable chemicals offered for sale in this state to provide the San Diego Supercomputer Center of the University of California with analytical test methods, including metabolites and degradation products that are biologically relevant, the octanol-water partition coefficient and the bioconcentration factor for humans for the chemical.

Late last week, CMTA learned that the sponsors intended to amend the bill and try to run it through the Assembly before the January 31st deadline for two year bills to get out of their house of origin.  The bill was removed from the inactive list on Tuesday, January 24th and we understand an amended bill was submitted to leg counsel before the noon Wednesday, January 25th deadline.  We believe the author has narrowed the bill to limit the number of chemicals involved to a maximum of 50 requests per state agency, commission or board, although we have yet to see the amended version in print.  Our concerns are that:
  • The bill has testing methods developed in a vacuum, which would be of little use to regulatory agencies.  As stated in a February 10, 2005 letter from California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Catherine Witherspoon to Assemblymember Chan, "ARB scientists will still be in the position of needing to verify the science of the chemical manufacturers – requiring equipment purchases and staff time."  Rather, the bill should require one single agency to initiate a collaborative process to review existing data sources and identify any potential data gaps.  Why ask companies to develop new test methods if they aren’t needed or are already available from other sources?
  • Any agency requesting test methods from chemical manufacturers should have an objective basis for the request.  Under current laws, such as the Air Toxic Hot Spots Information and Assessment Act, both implementing agencies and regulated entities must prioritize their workload based on evaluation of factors that may indicate a potential health risk (for example, chemical potency, toxicity, degree of chemical usage, volume of emissions and proximity to receptors).  AB 289 should include a similar requirement.
  • Though the bill affords some discretion to the requesting agency to determine the target matrix for the test method, the bill still retains requirements for metabolites, degradation products, octanol-water partition coefficient and bioconcentration factor in humans.  These parameters may not be relevant to a particular chemical or to the requesting agency and therefore should not be designated in statute as minimum requirements for test method development.
  • Chemical test method development can be extremely costly.  In some instances, costs can be as high as $100,000 to $1 million to develop.  Manufacturers do not want their research results available to competitors.  Chemical test method development could involve use of proprietary information and technology, yet AB 289 has no provisions for protecting such information from public disclosure.
  • Since AB 289 was defeated on the Assembly floor last June, neither the sponsors nor the author reached out to the opposition to discuss amendments until the day before the amendment deadline.  This issue is too complicated to be cobbled together in such a short time.
AB 289 is expected to be given another chance at third reading on the Assembly floor next Monday or Tuesday.
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