Dawn Koepke

Green chemistry back in the spotlight

By Dawn Koepke

Capitol Update, Jan. 22, 2019 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Ten years after the passage of California’s groundbreaking green chemistry laws, AB 1879 (Simitian, 2008), a new report is putting green chemistry back in the spotlight. The report authored by Dr. Gina Solomon, former Deputy Secretary for Science and Health at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), sought to evaluate and offer policy changes to California’s Green Chemistry Initiative and Safer Consumer Products (SCP) & Workplaces Program at the Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC).

You may recall that although the enacting legislation was passed in 2008, the regulations were not finalized and effective until October 2013. The development of the regulations was a result of a robust process with significant stakeholder engagement. While not perfect, the final regulations included a number of provisions informed and shaped by CMTA and other business community feedback and engagement. The result was a program that aimed to meet the overarching intent of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and business community members to ensure chemical-product decisions were placed in the hands of the scientists instead of being driven by the issue du jour in the Legislature.

The report highlights the history of the overarching Green Chemistry Initiative and SCP, specifically, and contains a host of recommendations proposed to enhance the state’s efforts including:

  • Expediting action on certain product-chemical combinations;
  • Strengthening DTSC’s data call-in authority;
  • Reevaluating and possibly reworking the priority product-chemical prioritization process;
  • Streamlining the alternatives analysis process;
  • Integrating and enhancing exposure monitoring;
  • Expansion and integration of hazard traits;
  • Elimination or repurposing of the Toxics Information Clearinghouse;
  • Promoting and supporting greater emphasis, education, business partnerships and incentives for green chemistry; and
  • "Substantially" increasing funding for green chemistry efforts.

As is often the case, such reports become the basis for Legislative interest. In this regard, the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee will hold a joint informational hearing on the Green Chemistry Initiative and the report on February 12th in Sacramento to discuss the history, opportunities and challenges from a host of perspectives. The CMTA-initiated Green Chemistry Alliance (GCA) is engaged and coordinating with members on feedback on the report and participation in the hearing.  

We will discuss the report, potentially related bills and the hearing on our next CMTA Environmental Quality (EQ) Committee call scheduled for Thursday, January 24th at 9 a.m. (PST).  I hope you will be able to join us for what will be an informative meeting to kick off what is shaping up to be a big EQ year. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to review the report

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