CPSC’s November 20, 2013 Commission hearing started with an emotional farewell from Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and high praise from her fellow Commissioners for her dedication to consumers and the agency. I joined the Chairman’s staff at the start of her tenure at CPSC and can echo the Commissioners in their recognition of the great amount of energy, sacrifice, and commitment she put into her service throughout her time leading the agency. She was given a standing ovation by those in attendance prior to chairing her final Commission meeting. The purpose of the meeting was for the Commission to vote on the agency’s fiscal year 2014 Operating Plan. The Commission voted unanimously to approve an amended operating plan that incorporated amendments from three of the Commissioners.

The first amendment, proposed by Chairman Tenenbaum, directed staff to move forward with additional work on the agency’s testing burden reduction efforts already underway. This past April, the Commission published a notice in the Federal Register requesting information from stakeholders on additional materials the agency could “determine” will always meet the requirements for lead content, phthalate content, and the solubility of eight heavy metals listed in ASTM F963. The benefit to companies of an agency “determination” is no longer being required to test any of materials that the agency believes will always comply with CPSC requirements. The agency first approved a set of determinations for the lead content requirements in 2009.

CPSC Deputy Executive Director Jay Howell stated in response to questions from Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle at the beginning of the meeting that CPSC staff have already reviewed many of the public comments submitted to the agency but likely could not complete a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking listing all of the materials that might qualify for a “determination” by the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2014). The Chairman’s amendment reflected this and instructed staff to complete their review of the public comments, assess the materials that might qualify for a determination, and begin drafting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – focusing first on those materials that will provide the greatest relief to the regulated community. Each of the Commissioners spoke in support of the amendment and it passed unanimously.

The Commission also voted:

  • 3-1 to adopt Commissioner Adler’s amendment for CPSC staff to undertake an additional study related to the agency’s ongoing rulemaking on All-Terrain Vehicles in lieu of following the Public Law 112-28 requirement to issue a final rule
  • 4-0 to adopt Commissioner Buerkle’s amendment to add UL 250 (flammable refrigerants) to the list of voluntary standards CPSC staff will work on during fiscal year 2014
  • 3-1 to adopt Commissioner Adler’s amendment for the agency to put out guidance to the regulated community on how to petition and provide data necessary for the agency to recognize international standards that are “equivalent” to CPSC standards such that a passing test result for a product’s compliance with an international standard would mean the product does not also have to be tested to the CPSC standard
  • 1-3 not to adopt Commissioner Buerkle’s amendment to allocate financial resources for the agency to fund an outside study of international standards to help the agency decide which international standards might be “equivalent” to CPSC standards
  • 1-3 not to adopt Commissioner Buerkle’s amendment for the Commission to send a letter to Congress concerning additional authorities needed to reduce third party testing burdens