Liberal Lawmakers To Rethink California “Green Chemistry”

California’s Green Chemistry regulations have proven so unruly even the state’s liberal lawmakers have begun to question the cost. The state legislature passed the law in 2008, but the state bureaucracy has repeatedly failed to develop workable implementation regulations. The problem isn’t the regulations — its the underlying law.

The regulations would list about 1,200 chemicals on “concern lists” based largely on political and unscientific grounds. Next it would identify products that use those chemicals and put them on lists too, pushing industry to redesign these products. The result will be higher prices for consumers, less innovation and potentially inferior and perhaps even more dangerous replacement products.

Last summer, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released “final” implementing regulations, followed by a 45-day public comment period (later extended to Oct. 11). In September, DTSC held a public hearing at which many industries expressed grave concerns about the impact of the proposed regulations.

California Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R) recently pointed out some of these issues in an op-ed:

First, this will drastically impact the ability of many businesses to sell their products in America’s other 49 states as well as markets around the world.  This could force them to simply stop selling and/or manufacturing many of their products in California.  The inevitable result will kill important high-wage jobs that we need to accomplish any semblance of an economic recovery.

For those companies that continue forward and absorb the burden, they will be forced to pass along compliance costs to the consumer in the form of price increases.  Can California families struggling to make ends meet afford to pay more for the things they use every day?

Miller recently has been joined by a number of his colleagues. In a letter led by Democrat Sen. Michael Rubio, 17 state lawmakers asked Gov. Jerry Brown to delay the regulations until an economic impact study could be completed.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Pointing to conflicts with federal regulations, an attorney representing members of the construction, home appliance and aircraft industry said the provisions would result “ultimately to the detriment of California’s economy by encouraging businesses both large and small to exit California for a more predictable business climate.”

Enter state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter (Kern County), incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

In a letter to Brown, signed by 16 fellow Democrats, Rubio called for halting the “open-ended, virtually unlimited in scope” regulations “until a robust economic impact study is completed,” including the number of businesses affected, the costs entailed and jobs endangered (or created).

Given the high stakes for California businesses, and ultimately consumers, delaying the rule is a good idea.  But rather than just rethink the rule, lawmakers need to revisit the law and the entire concept of government-forced green chemistry. For more information on this topic, check out CEI’s green chemistry paper and my prior blog post.