Readers have been following our posts on new state efforts on chemical regulation, such as California's Green Chemistry initiative. Now comes word that environmental officials from 10 state and local governments have formed an umbrella organization - the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2) - with the stated goals of promoting a clean environment, healthy communities, and a vital economy through the development and use of safer chemicals and products.
The states joining IC2 include California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington.
The goals of the IC2 are to:
- Avoid duplication and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of state, local, and tribal initiatives on chemicals through collaboration and coordination
- Build agency capacity to identify and promote safer chemicals and products
- Ensure that state, local, and tribal agencies, businesses, and the public have ready access to high quality and authoritative chemicals data, information, and assessment methods
Launched under the auspices of the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA), the new Clearinghouse says it will support state, local, and tribal health and environmental agencies with development and implementation of programs to promote use of safer chemicals and products; support the development of alternative assessment methods and identification of safer alternatives; share data and information on chemical use, hazard, exposure, and alternatives; share strategies and outcomes on chemicals prioritization initiatives; and build the capacity of agencies by sharing materials, strategies, and trainings. IC2 has a number of projects planned in these areas.
The Northeast Waste Management Officials Association's announcement of the IC2 comes just as many chemical manufacturers are expecting that the federal government (including through an update to TSCA) will take the lead in regulating chemical products, not state regulatory agencies and legislatures.
Industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council, continue to believe that a patchwork of state and local programs has the potential to create more confusion for consumers and manufacturers, and may ultimately simply hamper investment, and threaten future job creation. As we have noted, some of the bills introduced in the last Congress would have set an impossibly high hurdle for all chemicals in commerce, and were guaranteed to produce significant technical, bureaucratic and commercial barriers. Of particular concern to readers of MassTortDefense would be efforts to eliminate the current risk-based review system under TSCA and force EPA to use the so-called precautionary principle.
It seems more supportable that any overhaul of TSCA should include the notion that scientific reviews must use data and methods based on the best available science and risk-based assessment; must include cost-benefit considerations for the private-sector and consumers; must protect proprietary business information, and should logically prioritize reviews for existing chemicals.