Another View: ‘Green chemistry’ could harm auto industry and consumers

10/20/2013 12:00 AM

10/17/2013 4:19 PM

Dan Morain’s recent column regarding California’s green chemistry law (“ State’s attempt to regulate toxic chemicals draws long list of opposition,” Oct. 2) ignores a fundamental truth.

While well intentioned, the state’s green chemistry law could have a negative impact on the auto industry’s dramatic progress improving fuel economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing passenger safety.

State, federal and international bodies already heavily regulate our industry. Green chemistry duplicates and could interfere with these efforts and, in turn, impact jobs and raise costs for consumers.

Instead, automobiles must be treated like other products heavily regulated by federal and state governments.

California’s law essentially applies to all consumer goods in the state, but exemptions have been granted to heavily regulated items such as food, medical devices and drugs. Autos should be added to that list.

For more than a decade, automakers globally have administered a longstanding substance of concern tracking list and international database.

This proactive initiative reduces the use of substances of concern in production around the globe and advances the development and introduction of safer, better substitutions. The eliminated use of lead wheel weights and copper in brakes are but two examples.

More than ever, automakers are committed to reducing emissions and pollution. This year in California, we worked with a broad coalition of environmentalists, business groups and labor unions to pass several clean-air measures, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which expand clean-vehicle programs and fueling infrastructure in California while protecting jobs. Green chemistry could upend these efforts.

When it comes to green chemistry, the unintended consequences could be severe.

In our current economy, job creators such as automakers need consistency. They need clarity. And they need practical solutions that marry good public policy with economic reality.

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