A Victory in the Fight for Truly Green Chemistry Regulations

Due to relentless pressure from scientists, environmental and health organizations, and other public interest groups, the California Department of Toxic Substances has tabled the flawed Green Chemistry rules the agency released in November.

This is a huge victory!

CEH welcomed this major victory for California’s health and green policy and will work with the state in the new year to develop the nation’s strongest rules for protecting the public from harmful chemicals.

The road to this victory was not easy.   After two years of comments and consultations with all stakeholders, this fall DTSC released proposed Green Chemistry rules that were supported by CEH and other health and environmental advocates. But without warning or notice, just before Thanksgiving the Schwarzenegger Administration pulled a last minute bait-and-switch, issuing a completely new set of regulations that gutted the health and environmental foundations of the state Green Chemistry program. Even worse, after two years, the agency gave the public just fifteen days for comments.

CEH and our coalition partners from Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) educated the public and state leaders about the severe flaws in the new proposal. We also tapped into science and policy experts’ knowledge to help guide and inform advocacy efforts across the state, working with other advocates to provide comments and write sign-on letters opposing the new rules. Given the left-turn these rules had taken, we even considered legal avenues to stop DTSC from going forward with this rushed rule-making process.

Our efforts paid off: on Christmas’ Eve, CEH and CHANGE received word from DTSC that the new proposal would not go forward. DTSC has now committed to meetings with the Green Ribbon Science Panel and other stakeholders, including CEH and CHANGE in the new year. “We applaud this decision to take a more thoughtful approach to implementation of the green chemistry initiative,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH.  “As written, these regulations would have given a greenwashing opportunity to those companies not committed to protecting public health and the environment while doing nothing to encourage safer products in CA.”

But our work is not over yet.  Now we need to make sure that the rewrite of these Green Chemistry regulations really honors their claim of being “Green” and incorporates rules that commit to protecting public health and the environment while fostering an emerging green chemistry economy for California’s future.