ALERT UPDATE | Chemical Regulation:  Significant Developments and Processes Underway, Manufacturer Engagement Critical

There are several legacy legislative and regulatory developments carrying over into 2018 that could significantly impact manufacturers and other companies utilizing or marketing in chemicals and the products they go into, as well as several new bills introduced that would impact a variety of product and process categories.

AIV has been and continues to be actively engaging on these issues coordinating the efforts of a coalition of Vermont manufacturers and national trade associations, and we encourage Vermont companies to contact us for more information about recent developments and our plans for the coming days and weeks.

These developments follow several years of debate in the Legislature on chemical issues that are expected to intensify this year.  We are already facing and could face additional legislation that could:

  • Take a more aggressive approach to the issues highlighted below
  • Expand existing laws on public reporting and restrictions on certain children’s products to all consumer products
  • Undermine scientific standards and checks and balances for the existing laws noted above
  • Create new legal liabilities for Vermont and out of state companies related to chemicals
  • Impose financial, public reporting, and potential product stewardship burdens on manufacturers of certain household products
  • Impose additional, more specific product restrictions

As already noted, we strongly encourage to you contact us at info@aivt.org to learn more about what is going on, our efforts to work on these issues, and opportunities to stay informed and possibly consider engaging more directly.

The following are highlights of developments that are addressed more specifically in separate posts linked below:

Interagency Committee on Chemical Management

Governor Scott last summer signed an Executive Order to address several chemical regulatory issues that should be of interest to manufacturers, retailers, and other companies in Vermont and nationally.

The Executive Order establishes an Interagency Committee to review and make regulatory and legislative recommendations on a number of issues, most notably:

  • Possible changes to chemicals covered and thresholds triggered under Vermont’s Toxics Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction statute
  • Creation of a new chemical inventory reporting requirement
  • Possible changes to streamline and/or consolidate existing chemical regulations

(see related post here)

Chemicals of High Concern to Children

Separately, a Working Group established under 2014 legislation (Act 188) requiring public chemical reporting and possible restrictions on products marketed for children is currently considering expanding the list of covered chemicals and possibly banning certain chemicals under that statute.

On the legislative front, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee has voted in favor of the House-passed version of S.103, which contains a number of provisions that would undermine the integrity and credibility of the standards and procedures for determining which chemicals are included in the Act 188 requirements and which products might be banned or otherwise restricted or regulated.  This legislation is expected to be on the Senate floor for a vote next week.

(see related post here)

Legal and Financial Liabilities

Legislation, S.197, was introduced for the new legislative session that contains provisions addressing two of the three legal and financial liability provisions that had been included in the original version of S.103, the wide ranging chemical bill introduced last year (see more about S.103 as introduced and relates issues here).

Specifically, S.197 would (1) expose any person who releases a toxic substance strictly, jointly, and severally liable for any harm resulting from the release, and (2) establish a private right of action for medical monitoring damages incurred related to exposure to a toxic substance.  In both cases the scope and threshold for establishing harm and liability would be extremely broad and low.  Moreover, the liability would extend to legal and permitted emissions and activities.

For the text of S.197 and related information, click here.

The bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where AIV and other stakeholders have provided testimony.

(see related post here)

New Agricultural and Cosmetic Product Restrictions

In addition to broad chemical legislation, more narrowly focused bills have been introduced for this legislative session as well, including S.251 and H.602, which would ban cosmetic products containing formaldehyde or its equivalent and restrict potential replacement ingredients, and H.547, H. 650, and S.215, which would ban pesticides including chlorpyrifos and/or dicamba.

Household Products Containing Hazardous Substances

On a related issue, H.560 was introduced this legislative session.  The bill as introduced would require manufacturers selling household products containing hazardous substances, with certain exemptions, to register and report detailed information about every such product by UPC code or European Article Number, and pay $100 annual for each individual UPC/EAN report, with the money raised going to ANR and solid waste districts.  These reports would also be made public

As of this writing, there is an expectation that the current draft of the bill will be replaced by a more expansive approach that would impose more aggressive extended producer responsibility/product stewardship responsibilities on manufacturers.  Confirmation and details about this approach might not be available until this Friday or next week.

(see related post here)