To assist companies in understanding and complying with new legislation regulating chemical use in consumer products, Alston & Bird LLP recently expanded its Green Chemistry Team. Comprised of the firm’s top environmental attorneys, including Maureen Gorsen, the former director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), this group will assist companies in evaluating, developing and implementing strategies and policies to conform to California’s recently enacted Green Chemistry legislation. Comprised of Assembly Bill 1879 and Assembly Bill 509, the legislation is a novel approach to reduce the use of potentially hazardous and toxic substances found in consumer products. In addition to providing guidance on compliance issues, the team is closely monitoring ongoing developments in other states considering the enactment of similar legislation, as well as federal efforts to seek amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act.
“All eyes are on California as it is the first state to pass such legislation. We have assembled a team, led by Maureen, that is well-equipped to assist our clients in navigating these uncharted areas,” said Richard Hays, managing partner of Alston & Bird LLP. “Our clients will certainly benefit from our team’s extensive knowledge of issues related to chemical production and regulation, including a comprehensive understanding of this new area of law.”
Given the Green Chemistry program’s broad reach, Alston & Bird anticipates that it will have implications for clients that conduct business in California, as well as companies across the country that produce goods sold in California. To the extent the federal government or other states follow California’s model, these concerns will increase in prominence nationally.
Focusing on the design of products and their chemical ingredients, AB 1879 requires, among other things, a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of risks and impacts associated with chemicals of concern in consumer products. AB 509 requires the state to develop an online toxics data clearinghouse and regulations to establish the requirements for data and test methods.
“These laws are very broad and open-ended, which allows for substantial agency discretion in implementing the regulations. Therefore, it’s important for our clients, and all members of the regulated community, to get engaged now and help shape and direct the implementation of the Green Chemistry Initiative,” said Gorsen, partner in the Los Angeles and Sacramento offices of Alston & Bird LLP. “In light of DTSC’s release, on October 1, 2009, of its “Straw Proposal for Safer Alternatives Regulations,” this effort is especially timely and important.”
The Green Chemistry Team is comprised of partners Ward Benshoof, Lee DeHihns, Maureen Gorsen, Orlyn “Skip” Lockard, Peter Masaitis, Peter Nyquist, and associates Meaghan Boyd, Megan Hey and Catherine Wieman.