Lobbyists for consumer product manufacturers are scrambling to prevent the state from listing chemicals in their products as potentially harmful.

The lobbying frenzy is expected to kick into high gear this week as the state Department of Toxic Substances Control holds a series of workshops on a regulation unveiled in June targeting chemicals in consumer products from soap to cosmetics.

The draft regulation, which is part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Green Chemistry program, would require manufacturers to seek safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in their products and create tough governmental responses for lack of compliance.

The regulation calls for the agency to create two lists: one list of toxic chemicals and another list of consumer products containing those chemicals.

To determine which products end up on the list of consumer products, regulators would consider the volume of products sold, the extent of public exposure and how the products are disposed. Manufacturers of those products would then have to perform an “alternatives assessment” to determine if viable safer alternatives are available.

“This draft regulation is the first of its kind in the nation,” said Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the toxic safety department. “It essentially shifts the way government, industry and the public think about the products that end up in our homes.”

Manufacturers of consumer products are trying to protect their interests in regard to the measure, according to Maureen Gorsen, partner in the downtown L.A. office of Alston & Bird LLP, and former director of the DTSC. Alston & Bird represents several manufacturers and consumer products on environmental and safety issues.

Manufacturers are trying to ensure that scientific methods are established to determine what chemicals and products should be included on the lists.

Also, lobbyists for individual companies are trying to make sure the products they make are kept off the lists, and trade associations are doing the same for products they use.

“Most clients would not like to see either their chemicals or their products on these lists,” Gorsen said.

The draft regulation could get final approval by the agency before the end of the year.

Rail Pact

The state Air Resources Board has approved agreements with two major railroad companies to reduce diesel emissions at four major Southern California rail yards, including three in Los Angeles County.

In its June 24 meeting in Los Angeles, the board approved plans by Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway Co. to cut diesel emissions by 30 percent to 50 percent by 2020 at BNSF rail yards in San Bernardino and Commerce, and UP rail yards in Commerce and Long Beach. These reductions follow a round of cuts approved in 2005 calling for the railroad companies to slash emissions 50 percent by this year.

But residents living near the rail yards criticized the deal at the meeting, as did environmental activists and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. They said it does not go far or fast enough in slashing the cancer-causing diesel emissions. They testified that they wanted to see 50 percent reductions in diesel emissions by 2015 and even steeper cuts by 2020.

The railroad companies, however, said that they need new technology to meet the 50 percent reduction target and that technology, including locomotives with cleaner-burning engines and fully electrified cranes, isn’t available now.

Mark Stehly, assistant vice president for environmental and research development for BNSF, testified that when the technology becomes available it will be implemented first at its rail yard in San Bernardino – which has the highest level of diesel emissions of any rail yard in Southern California – and then at the Commerce rail yard.

Solvent Limits

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday on proposed revisions to a rule limiting the amount of smog-forming compounds in paint thinners and multipurpose solvents.

The district had initially imposed limits on smog-forming compounds in paint thinners and solvents in March 2009. District workers estimated about 1.2 million gallons of paint thinners and multipurpose solvents are sold in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and the Inland Empire each year. The goal was to reduce emissions of smog-forming compounds from these products by nearly 10 tons per day by 2012.

But a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, ruling on a lawsuit against the AQMD, ordered the district to revise the regulation, saying the district hadn’t dealt with risk of flammability of acetone as an alternative chemical.

The revision requires that all solvents and paint thinners containing acetone carry warning labels about the high flammability risk.

For more information on Thursday’s hearing, log onto the AQMD’s website at www.aqmd.gov.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.

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