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HB 1472: Relating to using chemical action plans to require safer chemicals in WA

HB 1472 identifies that exposure to toxic chemicals negatively impacts public health and is playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of many diseases and disorders, including learning and behavioral problems, asthma, reproductive problems, birth defects, obesity, and cancer. The bill establishes a policy to protect public health and the environment by eliminating or reducing the exposure of the residents of the state to toxic chemicals of concern, especially children and other sensitive or high exposure populations.

Specifically, HB 1472 does the following:

  • By January 1, 2018, Department of Ecology, in consultation with Department of Health, will create a list of not more than 150 priority chemicals.
  • By January 1, 2018, the director of DOE will select up to 20 priority chemicals for potential chemical action plan development.
  • Beginning July 1, 2018 and every two years thereafter, the director of DOE shall select up to four priority chemicals for the development of chemical action plans by DOE and DOH.

The department is authorized to require manufacturers to conduct alternatives assessments. DOE, in consultation with DOH, shall prepare a report of all reviewed alternatives assessments, including whether a safer alternative exists and identify unsuitable alternatives.

If the department determines that a safer alternative exists, the department shall, by rule, prohibit specific uses of the chemical or prohibit the sale, offer for sale or distribution of a specific product or products containing the chemical.

Environment Committee Amendment:  The bill as amended does the following:

  1. Directs the Department of Ecology (ECY) to begin conducting up to four chemical action plans (CAP) every two years on chemicals that harm humans, plants, or wildlife and that studies have found to be present in humans, the human environment, or the natural environment, or that are listed as criteria water pollutants that affect human health under the federal Clean Water Act.
  2. Establishes a Chemical Safety Committee (CSC) within the Office of the Governor that is charged with consulting on information requests submitted by the ECY to manufacturers of chemicals for which a CAP is being conducted, recommending that the ECY direct manufacturers to perform alternative assessments, and recommending that the ECY restrict the uses of certain chemicals.
  3. Authorizes the ECY, upon CSC recommendation, to require manufacturers to assess alternatives to using a priority chemical and to restrict the use of the priority chemical if alternatives assessments identify a safer alternative to the priority chemical.  
  4. Requires the state to preferentially purchase products and products in packaging that contain no priority chemicals or that contain lower amounts of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals than comparable products.

House Floor Striking Amendment:  As amended by the House the bill now does the following:

  1. Eliminates the chemical safety committee responsible for consulting on information requests to manufacturers and with approving department of ecology alternatives assessment orders to manufacturers and restrictions on chemicals.
  2. Eliminates the department of ecology’s authority to restrict chemicals for which a safer alternative has been identified.
  3. Requires the department of ecology to recommend, in the form of draft legislation, that the legislature prohibit specific uses of a chemical for which the department has identified a safer alternative.
  4. Exempts businesses that have plans to phase out the use of a chemical from alternatives assessment requirements if the phase out is to take place within a reasonable amount of time based on the use and manufacturing process for a product, rather than within two years.
  5. Authorizes the department of ecology to complete an alternatives assessment based on a chemical action plan recommendation if the department does not identify any manufacturers that may be required to perform an alternatives assessment.
  6. Requires at least two of the first four chemicals subject to a chemical action plan to be chemicals regulated under the federal clean water act.
  7. Requires chemical action plans to include a summary of dissenting views held by members of the external advisory committee convened for the chemical action plan.
  8. Requires the department of ecology to consider scientific evidence of chemical exposure effects, human and environmental susceptibility to chemical exposure, existing chemical regulation and management, and chemical reduction and phase-out opportunities when selecting chemicals for chemical action plan development.
  9. Requires the department of ecology to cite the sources of information that it relied upon in selecting chemicals for chemical action plan development and in completing chemical action plans.
  10. Directs the state purchasing and procurement policy to address chemicals that a chemical action plan recommends for inclusion under the policy.  
  11. Eliminates the intent section.

The bill as amended by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee: 

Revises requirements for alternatives assessments, including the department of ecology’s (DOE) authority to order manufacturers to conduct alternatives assessments by requiring enacted legislation to provide specific authority for a specific chemical. Restructures definition of alternatives assessments (moves substantive language to the body of the bill). Requires DOE to prepare agency request legislation to authorize alternatives assessments. Requires DOE to provide a report to the legislature as to whether developing CAPs should be continued. Adds requirements for confidentiality of information submitted to DOE. Removes sunset provisions. Expires all sections as of June 30, 2025. Revises requirements for CAPs including the number and types of chemicals to be selected. Revises definitions of: “Manufacturer” by deleting importer and domestic distributor; and “safer alternative.” Adds exempt products. Adds prohibition on the sale, manufacture, and distribution of children’s products and residential upholstered furniture containing certain flame retardants in amounts greater than 1000 ppm. Revises the definitions under the Children’s Safe Products Act to specify “children’s products” with respect to exemption of the sale of used products and penalties.