January 26, 2009

Internet “˜Wiki’ Could Develop California’s Green Chemistry Regulations

Taking an innovative approach to involving the public, Cal/EPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is launching a "wiki" to gather comment on how to build California's Green Chemistry regulations. The wiki, found on the department's website, allows anyone to access and contribute or modify content, using simple on-line tools.

DTSC created the wiki for the landmark Green Chemistry bills signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2008. These new laws require DTSC to develop a comprehensive approach for assessing potential hazards from chemicals in consumer products and for finding safer alternatives for harmful chemicals used in those products and in the manufacturing processes of goods sold in California.

"This wiki brings transparency to our rule-making process and ensures the public will have immediate and easy access to comment and provide suggested edits. It will capture the input of Californians and experts worldwide and generate new ideas that will play an integral role as we develop these new regulations," said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen.
"It will help us evolve from managing waste after the fact to designing less toxic products from the start," Director Gorsen added.

In addition to using the wiki, DTSC will gather public comments at several workshops. The first will be held February 18, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at DTSC's offices in Berkeley, located at 700 Heinz Ave. The California Green Chemistry Initiative was launched in April 2007 by Cal/EPA Secretary Linda Adams who asked DTSC to work with Cal/EPA's boards, departments and offices, and other state agencies to develop recommendations. Released in December 2008, the six recommendations are:

  • Expand pollution prevention programs
  • Develop green chemistry workforce education and training
  • Create an online product ingredient network
  • Create an online toxic clearinghouse
  • Accelerate the quest for safer products
  • Move toward a "cradle-to-cradle" economy

Two of the recommendations were enacted when Governor Schwarzenegger signed two historic bills on September 29, 2008. Assembly Bill 1879 (Feuer, Chapter 599, 2008 Statutes) authorizes DTSC to identify and prioritize chemicals of concern, evaluate alternatives and specify regulatory responses. The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel to provide implementation advice and expands the Environmental Policy Council to oversee critical program activities. The second bill, Senate Bill 509 (Simitian, Chapter 560, 2008 Statutes) requires an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse be established to provide public access to information on the toxicity of chemicals.


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