Thursday, January 26, 2012

With No TSCA Chemical Reform on the Horizon, States Take the Lead

With TSCA reform at the federal level highly unlikely to occur in this election year, the individual states are expected to step up their ongoing battle to protect human health and the environment from chemicals. According to Safer States, "at least 28 state legislatures will consider proposals to address continued concerns about toxic chemicals in consumer products."  This builds on "over 80 chemical safety laws [that] have been passed with an overwhelming margin of bi-partisan support in statehouses across the country" during the last nine years.

Safer States is "a network of diverse environmental health coalitions and organizations in states around the country" and is a part of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a "coalition of groups united by their common concern about chemicals in our homes, places of work, and products we use every day."

The organization has posted what they see as highlights of the 2012 state legislative efforts, as follows:

  • Identification and Disclosure of Chemicals Harmful to Children. At least 13 states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington will consider policies to identify and ultimately reduce exposures to chemicals of concern, including prioritizing chemicals for state action and requiring manufacturers of consumer products to disclose the chemicals in their products.
  • BPA Phase Outs. At least 20 states will consider policy to restrict the use of the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA in infant formula cans, other food packaging, children's products, and receipt paper. Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin are all states considering such legislation.
  • Tris Flame Retardant Phase Outs. At least four state legislatures will introduce policies to phase out the use of the flame retardant chlorinated Tris in children's products. Chlorinated Tris is a flame retardant that was removed from children's pajamas in the 1970s because of concerns over adverse health effects, including cancer, but has reappeared in other children's products. Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Washington are legislatures considering such a ban. In addition, Alaska, Michigan, New Jersey and New York legislatures will consider policies to reduce exposure to the flame retardant decaBDE.
  • Green Cleaning in Schools. Earlier this month, Vermont passed policy requiring manufacturers to only sell environmentally preferable cleaning products to schools. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina are considering similar policy.
  • Cadmium Bans in Children's Products. At least 5 states will be introducing or have introduced policies to ban the use of cadmium in children's products, including Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New York, and Tennessee. Cadmium is linked to cancer and other health effects.
  • Other policies. Oregon has introduced policy to require the state to reduce toxics through its procurement process. New York is considering policy to restrict formaldehyde in beauty products. Massachusetts and Georgia are also considering policy to improve the safety of cosmetics. Other states have introduced individual chemical restrictions, such as lindane in Michigan and perchloroethelyene in Vermont.
Ironically, while the chemical industry has indicated that it prefers the reform of TSCA on the federal level rather than a patchwork of state and local laws, the lack of action on TSCA is serving as a catalyst for states and municipalities to create that patchwork in earnest.

The full Safer States press release can be viewed and downloaded as a PDF here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Obama Nominates Jim Jones to Officially Head EPA Toxics Office

The White House has announced that President Obama will nominate long-time EPA leader Jim Jones to be the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  Jones has been acting chief of the office since the departure of Steve Owens last October.  Jones' nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, a prospect that led some to believe Obama would not officially nominate anyone during this contentious election year.  Another nominee, Ken Kopocis to be Assistant Administrator of the Office of Water, has been held up by Republicans critical of ongoing rulemaking from that office.

Jones has previously served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation as well as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He previously also was Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs and "held a series of management positions in the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs" in a career that goes back to 1991 at EPA.

The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is charged with overseeing EPA's regulation of industrial chemicals and pesticides. EPA and many of the Office's programs have been mired in a seemingly constant battle to maintain funding for "protection of human health and the environment" as Congress tries to limit EPA's ability to do so.  Several initiatives and rulemakings have also been hung up under review at the Office of Management and Budget.

The White House announcement of this and other key administration posts can be read here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

EPA Provides Guidance for Reporting Byproduct Data Under the Chemical Data Reporting Rule

The USEPA will be providing additional information related to the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Rule, which was formerly the Inventory Update Rule (IUR).  Many companies have been confused about what they actually have to report.  And a recent workshop dealt with one specific type of chemical - byproducts. 

More information will be coming sometime in January.  Until then, those companies who are still trying to figure out their obligations can check EPA's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the 2012 CDR, which can be found here.

Additional useful information is available from a workshop held January 19, 2012 at the Washington University Law School.  The workshop, sponsored by law firm Bergeson & Campbell and the USEPA, looked specifically on how to report byproducts and recycled substances under the CDR.  An overview and slide presentations, as well as case studies and an audio playback, can be downloaded here.

More information on the CDR can be found on EPA's web site.