George Alexeef, the Director of California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessments (OEHHA), announced today that OEHHA will issue new proposed regulations to significantly modify the Proposition 65 warning regime on September 16, 2014. OEHHA released a pre-regulatory draft of its proposed new regulations on March 7, 2014. That draft was met with significant opposition, which was memorialized generally in a letter issued by the California Chamber of Commerce (with assistance from Sidley and other law firms) on behalf of more than 100 regulated companies and their trade associations on June 12, 2014. In making today's announcement, OEHHA said that while many changes were made to the proposed regulations from the pre-regulatory draft announced earlier this year it still represents notable changes from existing law. The proposed new regulations are expected to be made publicly available tomorrow and official notice to be published in the California Regulatory Notice Register on Friday, September 26th, starting the clock on the 60-day comment period.
Mr. Alexeef's announcement was made today at the Annual Prop. 65 Clearinghouse Conference in San Francisco, California. This annual gathering draws relevant stakeholders from: California’s Environmental Protection Agency, California's Attorney General's Office, plaintiff's counsel, professional plaintiff organizations, industry defense counsel, industry and current and former members of the judiciary with experience hearing Proposition 65 cases. Judith Praitis and Amy Lally were both presenters at the conference. Judith presented on the role of the Attorney General's Office before the Courts in the settlement review process, and Amy presented a Proposition 65 case study drawing from the unprecedented scope and scale of this year's Proposition 65 enforcement wave regarding flame retardant chemicals.
Proposition 65 is a unique California right to know law. It requires companies doing business in the state to provide a clear and reasonable warning before exposing someone to a chemical known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. There are more than 900 chemicals on the list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Proposition 65 is enforced exclusively through litigation brought by public prosecutors or private enforcers who are permitted by statute to recover attorneys' fees.
OEHHA has been charged by the California legislature as the lead agency for adopting regulations to implement Proposition 65.