New Chemical and Manufacturer Responsibility and Liability Bills Introduced

Chemical Liability and Regulation

Although S.25 is still expected to be the major chemical regulation bill considered this session (see related post here), several new bills addressing chemicals have been introduced in recent days that should be of concern and interest to manufacturers and other employers.  AIV is closely engaged on these bills and working to coordinate industry stakeholder updates and engagement – we would strongly encourage companies to contact us at info@aivt.org for more information, future updates, and opportunities to weigh in as warranted.

Of particular concern is S.261, which would hold covered companies strictly, jointly, and severally liable for any personal injury or property harm resulting from any intentional or unintentional, permitted or unpermitted release of any PFAS.  This bill should be of concern to any company that uses PFAS, especially if it is used in products or during the manufacturing process.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be taken up in the coming days.

Also of concern is S.197, which would restrict the procurement of certain products containing PFAS by school districts and municipal and state government. Beyond concerns with procurement bans for impacted products, an additional issue with these provisions is that the bill does not address how PFAS containing products are to be identified.  This raises a serious risk of imposing labeling and/or registration requirements on manufacturers – something that has proven extremely burdensome when Maine attempted to implement a registration requirement.

S.197 would also prohibit PFAS in pesticides, both in the pesticide itself as well as any containers that contain PFAS above a threshold.  Of particular concern here is that for some pesticide containers there is not yet suitable alternatives to PFAS.

This bill is currently in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, where it has received an initial review and will likely be taken up again in the coming days.

Another bill that is in Senate Health and Welfare and is expected to be taken up in the near future is S.205, which would ban the use of the chemical trichloroethylene as a vapor degreaser, an intermediate chemical to produce other chemicals, a refrigerant, or an extraction solvent or in any other manufacturing or industrial cleaning process or use.  If your company uses trichloroethylene for any purpose we encourage you to contact us at info@aivt.org for more information and updates.

Although the bills above are the newly introduced bills most likely to move in the coming weeks, other bills have been introduced as well.  Below are the key chemical-related bills that have been introduced this year.  We will provide updates and more information on these any additional bills as warranted, but don’t hesitate to contact us at info@aivt.org if you have any questions or want to discuss any of these issues:

S.261: This bill proposes to provide that any person who releases perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances from a large facility shall be held strictly, jointly, and severally liable for any harm resulting from the release.

H.706: This bill proposes to prohibit the sale, offer for sale or use, distribution, or use of any neonicotinoid treated article seed for soybeans or for any crop in the cereal grains crop group. The bill would also prohibit the application or treatment with a neonicotinoid pesticide for multiple other uses.

S.197: This bill proposes to restrict the procurement of certain products containing PFAS by school districts and municipal and State government. It would also require the Department of Health to establish a registry to monitor adverse health conditions and diseases that may be attributable to PFAS exposure. This bill proposes to require the Department of Health to issue a public health advisory regarding the presence of PFAS in drinking water. It further proposes to restrict perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances as ingredients in pesticides. The bill also proposes to restrict the use of pesticides that have been stored, distributed, or packaged in a fluorinated, high-density polyethylene container that has a perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance content exceeding 20 parts per 19 trillion.

S.205: This bill proposes to ban the use of the chemical trichloroethylene as a vapor degreaser, an intermediate chemical to produce other chemicals, a refrigerant, or an extraction solvent or in any other manufacturing or industrial cleaning process or use.

H.601: This bill proposes to prohibit the presence of certain high priority materials and high priority chemicals in packaging or packaging components sold or distributed in the State.

H.544:  This bill proposes to prohibit in the short-term the manufacture, sale, and distribution in Vermont of cosmetic and menstrual products containing certain chemicals and chemical classes, textiles containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and athletic turf fields containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. In the longer term, it further proposes to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and distribution in Vermont of any product containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances if the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances is deemed a currently unavoidable use.

Manufacturer Responsibility for Financing and Administering Waste Collection of Products

As discussed previously, the primary extended producer responsibility (EPR) issue this year is expected to be the expansion of the state’s battery EPR law to more batteries and many more battery using products (see related post here).  Legislation has now been introduced in both the Senate and House, although the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee is expected to take the lead:

S.254: This bill proposes to amend the State’s existing battery stewardship program for primary batteries to also apply to rechargeable batteries and battery-containing products.

H.688: This bill proposes to amend the State’s existing battery stewardship program for primary batteries to also apply to rechargeable batteries and battery-containing products.

The Committee will have an initial introduction to S.254 this week, and will likely take up the bill in earnest in the coming weeks.  Manufacturers of any type of battery or products that use batteries are strongly encouraged to contact us at info@aivt.org for more information, updates, and opportunities to engage on this issue.

Another EPR bill recently introduced is H.628, which would create a program for waste motor vehicle tires.  Although it is not certain if or when the House Environment and Energy Committee will take this bill up, it has a high likelihood of moving if and when it does.

In addition to monitoring and engaging on these EPR bills, AIV is also closely engaged in the implementation of the recently enacted Household Hazardous Waste EPR law, including working with stakeholders to identify serious challenges to implementation and compliance that might require legislative fixes.  If you manufacture any product that falls under the definition of HHW, please contact us at info@aivt.org.