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Killing Right-to-Know: Proposition 65 postscript

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Needless to say, CMA's dire predictions of the economic consequences of Prop. 65 have proven false. According to the most recent fact sheet from the American Chemistry Council, the successor to CMA, chemicals are a $20 billion-a-year industry in California, which ranks eighth among the states in annual production. By contrast, the industry's annual expenditures for pollution abatement in the state are $130 million. Almost 80,000 Californians are directly employed by the industry, ranking third among the states in chemical jobs. [www.americanchemistry.com]

Meanwhile, the health and safety benefits of Prop. 65 were immediate and long-lasting.

In just the first few years after its passage, makers of fine china agreed to cut the amount of lead in their glazes by half. Fourteen major plumbing-supply manufacturers agreed to produce brass faucets that were virtually lead-free, the carcinogen trichloroethylene was removed from Liquid Paper. A national brand of car wax and carburetor cleaner was reformulated. A carcinogen was taken out of spot remover. A waterproofing spray for shoes was reformulated to remove another carcinogen. [Mary Graham, "Regulation by Shaming," The Atlantic Monthly, April 2000.] Overall, more than $250 million in product reformulations and process changes have been made by the chemical and other industries to avoid having to label their products as cancer-causing as required by Prop. 65. [Prop 65 News]

[California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act] contains some of the most extreme environmental requirements yet imposed under state or federal law. . . . The proponents of the initiative are likely to seek similar laws in other states . . . The net result would be to steer environmental regulation away from permits and safe effluent/emission limits, to zero discharge.
- Chemical Manufacturers Association memo, Sept. 1, 1987 (view entire document)

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last updated: march.27.2009

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