September 30, 2008

California to Implement Comprehensive Green Chemistry Program

California to implement comprehensive green chemistry program

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- California reached another environmental milestone on Monday, with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signing of two groundbreaking bills implementing the first-in-the-nation green chemistry program.

The program is designed to "reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals in our products and the environment," the governor said in a statement.

"This bi-partisan package of environmental legislation propels California to the forefront of the nation and the world with the most comprehensive green chemistry program ever established," Schwarzenegger said.

"It also puts an end to the less effective 'chemical-by- chemical' bans of the past. With these two bills, we will stop looking at toxics as an inevitable bi-product of industrial production. Instead they will be something that can be removed from every product in the design stage," the governor said.

A bi-partisan effort, Bill AB 1879 establishes authority for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop regulations that create a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern and to create methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals.

It also allows DTSC to take certain actions following an assessment that range from "no action" to "restrictions or bans." The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel made up of experts to provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies, as well as ensuring implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation.

Moreover, the bill expands the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of the heads of all California Environmental Protection Agency boards and departments, to oversee critical activities related to the implementation of the green chemistry program.

Bill SB 509 creates an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse, a web-based database, to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California every day.

At the Governor's request, the Secretary for Environmental Protection has established a Green Chemistry Initiative to develop policy options for implementing a green chemistry program.

Instead of making chemical policy through the Legislature on a case-by-case basis, the goal of this initiative is to work with scientists from California and around the world to evaluate the health effects of chemicals and possible alternatives with a systematic and comprehensive approach that is science-based, according to the governor's office.

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