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Chemical Policy

Science In The Courts

  Chemical Policies - SEHN Materials

Well over 80,000 chemicals are currently in use in the U.S. today, but manufacturers, scientists, and even government agencies know very little about their effects on human health. Even less is known about the safety of these chemicals in combination with each other, which is how each of us experiences them every day. How do our laws governing the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of chemicals in this country need to change? How promising are the proposals currently on the table?

Comments on proposed California Safer Products regulations CHANGE coalition, December 3, 2010.

Behind closed doors, California’s proposed Green Chemistry regulations underwent drastic changes in the final weeks of 2010. NGOs who had been working in an open public process up to that point objected.

California Green Chemistry Initiative Final Report State of California, California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control, December 2008.

This report, which was commissioned by the state and produced by UC Berkeley, sets the intent of chemicals policy reform in California.

Comments to EPA on pesticide inert ingredient disclosure Joseph H. Guth JD PhD, April 2010.

Pesticide ingredients are a perfect example of why we need a new definition of "unreasonable risk" that reflects the state of the Earth in 2010. Full disclosure can engage market forces—both the public and industry—in reducing harmful impacts.

Louisville Charter with background papers. Background Papers #4, "Act with Foresight," and #5, "Require Comprehensive Safety Data for All Chemicals," were written by SEHN staff members.

The Chemicals Market Cannot Generate Green Chemicals Unless the Data Gap is Closed Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. (2007)

Abstract The chemicals market is not a properly operating free market. Lack of publicly available information about the health and safety attributes of chemicals on the market – the Data Gap -- is making it impossible for those who buy chemicals to identify safer alternatives. When those who prefer green chemicals cannot identify and then purchase them, their demand cannot drive the market to supply green chemicals in favor of older, more hazardous chemicals. California has the capacity to take targeted steps to close the Data Gap, steps the state should take to foster a chemicals market that is capable of steadily innovating incrementally safer chemicals in response to market demand

CHANGE - Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy October 2007 The proposal of a broad-based coalition of environmental and environmental justice groups, health organizations, labor advocates, community based groups, parent organizations, and others for a comprehensive new framework for chemistry reform in California.

The Core Legal Test In A Chemicals Law Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. (2007)

The world is searching for better legal systems for controlling the chemicals we place into commerce. Diverse chemicals laws already exist, including California's Proposition 65, the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the European regulation called the Restriction, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH), which the European Union is working to implement later in 2007. But more are coming. Senator Lautenberg and six other U.S. Senators introduced the Kids Safe Chemicals Act of 2005 (S.1391), and non-governmental organizations around the country are developing still other approaches.

Two Rules For Decisions: Trust In Economic Growth Vs. Precaution Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. (2007)

Everyone knows the role of law is to control and guide the economy. From law, not economics, springs freedom from slavery, child labor and unreasonable working conditions. Law, reflecting the values we hold dear, governs our economy's infliction of damage to the environment.

Our law contains what might be called an overarching environmental decision rule that implements our social choices. The structure of this decision rule is an intensely political issue, for the people of our democracy must support its far-reaching consequences. Today we (all of us) are rethinking our current environmental decision rule, which our society adopted in the course of the Industrial Revolution.

Federal Voiding of State and Local Protections for Human Health and the Environment Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. (2006)

Today’s advocates of protecting human health and the environment are focusing their efforts largely on the states, where they believe progressive action on a wide range of issues can best be achieved. Many view the Republican-controlled federal government as a lost cause. However, the federal government is much more dangerous than that. It has the capacity and, unfortunately, now has the will to void all that progressives might achieve in the states, and is ignored by advocates at their peril.

Resignation Letter to the EPA's National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee (Guth, October 2, 2006)

Introduction To Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. (April 30, 2006)

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a federal statute passed by Congress and enacted in 1976, was intended to enable EPA to adequately regulate toxic chemicals in the United States. It is the only federal law that broadly provides for regulation of most chemicals both before and after they enter commerce. Some other U.S. laws enable both pre-market and post-market controls, but they apply only to particular classes of chemicals such as pesticides or pharmaceuticals. Other U.S. environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Superfund and RCRA, are essentially end-of-pipe statutes aimed at regulating clean-ups and releases to the environment and workplace only after chemicals are introduced into commerce.

Summaries of Chemicals Regulations Joseph H. Guth, J.D., Ph.D. April 28, 2006

Attached are one-page outlines of four major approaches to managing industrial chemicals: (i) TSCA, (ii) REACH, (iii) Lautenberg’s Kid Safe Chemicals Act of 2005 and (iv) the preliminary Framework for Chemicals Policy Reform being worked out by Mark Rossi, Laurie Valeriano and Mike Belliveau.

NOTE: These analyses are very brief and are only intended to provide an overview at the broadest level so that the overall structure of these four approaches can be compared. Full and precise explanations of each approach would contain many exceptions, qualifications, provisos, conditions, elaborations and other complications that are left out here in the attempt to convey the broad outlines.

  Chemical Policies - Other Resources

UC Berkeley reports on Green Chemistry 2006 and 2008 (see "Publications") – The work of SEHN Legal Director Joseph Guth is cited in these reports.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families A nationwide effort to pass smart federal policies that protect us from toxic chemicals.

Boston Consensus Conference on Biomonitoring The December 2006 report of 14 randomly selected Boston-area residents who met over three weekends to learn about and consider issues related to biomonitoring—studies of human chemical exposures, often called body burdens--and to have their questions answered by national experts. The Consensus statement in PDF format.

California Senate Bill No. 1379 CHAPTER 599 (Biomonitoring) Adopted 2006 The chaptered bill in PDF format.

California green chemistry bills (adopted 2008) Senate Bill No. 509 Assembly Bill No. 1879