Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5126

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CHEMICAL INNOVATIONS INSTITUTE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT.

Vote Date:

3/15/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/1/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Clean Water Action

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To establish a Chemical Innovations Institute at the University of Connecticut

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

[Click here and Enter Response from Administration/Agency]

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Dawn Mays-Hardy, American Lung Association: strongly supports the bill. A Chemical Innovations Institute could help make Connecticut workplaces safer, and could help improve lung health for workers who are currently exposed to toxic substances as part of their job. Phasing out the most highly toxic substances from children's products would help to reduce the exposures of our youngest residents, and also promote safer environments as the facilities where those products are being made and in the communities in which they are disposed.

Pamela Puchalski, ConnectiCOSH: strongly supports the bill. They believe that the proposed institute would help make Connecticut businesses more competitive on a global and national level while offering more protection for workers, consumers and the environment from hazardous chemicals. More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been produced for use in the United States since World War II. Only a small number of these have been adequately tested for their potential impact on the workers who use them and the consumers who purchase products containing them. Workers who regularly come in contact with dangerous substances, and who therefore receive a higher dose than the general public, bear a disproportionate share of the adverse effects of products made with toxic chemicals.

Ann Berman, Environmental Concerns Coalition: supports the bill.

Joyce Acebo~Raguskus, Environmental Concerns Coalition: supports the bill. The Chemical Innovations Institute would be a home for national and global information to assist business, agencies and non-profit organizations to distinguish high priority toxins for phasing out.

Grace Hvasta-Petrarca: supports the bill.

Martha Kelly, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice: supports the bill. A Chemical Innovations Institute would help Connecticut to lead in manufacturing products that families can trust. It is an economic development opportunity for green jobs growth and will assure that Connecticut products can be sold in the international market place. This will help our state businesses and the Connecticut economy as a whole, as well as protecting workers and consumers.

Loyola Welsh, CEUI, SEIU Local 511: supports the bill. It will help promote safe workplaces for their members. It is their belief that having a Chemical Innovations Institute will help reduce the use of toxic chemicals that are increasingly linked to the incidence of chronic diseases.

Gretchen Raffa, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England: supports the bill

Cato Laurencin, Vice President of Health Affairs, UConn School of Medicine: supports the bill.

Martin Mador, Connecticut Sierra Club: supports the bill. The Institute would work with resources across the country, such as the Interstate Clearinghouse, to accumulate knowledge about non-toxic chemicals. This information would be shared with Connecticut industry. Benefits to state companies include: better competitiveness in the global marketplace; preservation of jobs; improved worker health; reduced worker compensation, OSHA compliance costs and hazardous waste disposal fees; and access to state-of-the-art chemical information. Access to this knowledge is vital for state industry to remain competitive and preserve jobs.

Anne Hulick, Connecticut Nurses' Association: strongly supports the bill. This is a “win-win” for Connecticut citizens and industry. With increasingly stringent international regulations on chemicals, and a lack of federal law addressing this issue, Connecticut industries bear the burden of the need to shift from using harmful chemicals in their work processes to safer alternatives in order to reduce exposure to workers and to compete in the global marketplace. However, a shift to safer alternatives often requires significant research, change in workflows and training, all of which require significant expense. The Chemical Innovations Institute will provide much needed support to state businesses and industry by serving as a “one-stop shopping” resource to arm businesses with research and technical information on safer alternatives.

Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut: supports the bill. This legislation would create an institute at UConn that would position our state to create public-private partnerships aimed at reducing the use of toxic chemicals in commerce and industry. Such an institute would provide substantial benefits to Connecticut's environment, public health and economic competitiveness.

Public-private partnerships to identify and implement less toxic alternatives to chemicals currently used by Connecticut businesses can increase the state's economic competitiveness by reducing costs associated with, among other areas, regulatory compliance in the handling and use of toxic chemicals.

Thomas Swarr, Sustainability by Design, LLC: supports the bill. The Chemical Innovations Institute could be a valuable resource to aid Connecticut businesses in addressing emerging requirements for substituting dangerous chemicals. High technology applications often face expensive qualification testing to satisfy safety codes. Finding cost effective ways for Connecticut business to collaborate on the identification and qualification of safer alternatives could be important roles for the institute. A central resource for monitoring regulatory developments in other states and countries and facilitating technology transfer among Connecticut businesses would also be a useful role. Education is another important role for the institute, and this includes public education to build support for the policies it will take to promote a safe and healthy Connecticut.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of establishing the institute is to send clear signals that the common assumption that environmental protection costs jobs or impedes economic development is wrong-headed.

Tim Morse, Ph.D., UConn Health Center: supports the bill. They anticipate that a Chemical Innovations Institute at UConn Health Center will be helpful for the transition to safer alternatives through (1) providing expertise in relation to current and future chemical policy changes through integration with national and international networks, including the Interstate Chemical Clearinghouse, (2) providing training to Connecticut businesses and workers on chemical assessment and evaluation of safer alternatives, (3) providing a linkage to green chemistry efforts to develop safer alternatives, and (4) helping businesses evaluate the effectiveness of the alternatives.

Andrew May, resident of Hartford: supports the bill. The establishment of a Chemical Innovations Institute represents an investment in Connecticut's economy and public health.

Jennifer Hatch, ConnPIRG: supports the bill. ConnPIRG's sister organization in Massachusetts was instrumental in establishing a similar institute – The Toxic Use Reduction Institute – in that state in 1989. Having a central hub for information of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals (particularly cleaning chemicals) has helped Massachusetts businesses reduce the use of toxic cleaning solvents and create safer workplaces.

Lisa Ryan-Boyle, resident of Darien: strongly supports the bill. This would enable this state to compete in the new “green” marketplace, and at the same time, create needed jobs and safe workplaces for its residents.

Laura Anderson, resident of Wethersfield: supports the bill.

Carolyn Wysocki, President of Ecological Health Organization, Inc.: supports the bill. ECHO believes that this will help lessen the risk of people becoming ill from toxic chemicals. By replacing toxic chemicals with safer alternatives, we can help reduce the number of potential people who could develop Multiple Chemical Syndrome (MCS) or cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive and neurodegenerative disorders.

Toby Cone, executive board member of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York: supports the bill. A Chemical Innovations Institute would help Connecticut to lead in manufacturing products that families can trust. It is an economic development opportunity for green jobs growth and will assure that Connecticut products can be sold in the international market place. This will help our state businesses and the CT economy as a whole, as well as protecting workers and consumers from exposure to toxins.

Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State: supports the bill. This will (1) promote research and development of safe chemical alternatives, (2) create green growth jobs and safe workplaces through green technology and green chemistry, and (3) provide assistance to state agencies, businesses and nonprofits that want to use safe alternatives to chemicals that are harmful to public health and the environment.

This legislation sets the groundwork for innovations in green chemistry technologies, green job creation, green chemistry education, and technical assistance in Connecticut. The institute could promote safer alternatives for chemical products and by-products, for pesticides, toxic waste, and chemical pollution remediation, and safer sewage waste treatment.

Sarah Uhl, Clean Water Action: supports the bill. This legislation would foster green job growth, promote safe workplaces, and reduce the use of toxic chemicals. With increasingly stringent chemical regulations, being implemented in other countries, Clean Water Action sees this as an opportunity to foster economic development and to make Connecticut a leader on green chemistry innovation and clean technologies.

The institute would (1) keep businesses up to date on international and national chemistry policy changes, which would help with compliance and ensure access to international markets for Connecticut manufactured products, (2) train businesses in evaluating chemicals for safer alternatives, which would help businesses market products as green and avoid public embarrassment from having toxics in consumer products, and (3) increase the use of safer alternatives that protect workers, consumers and the environment.

Erika Correa, The Learning Disabilities Association of Connecticut: supports the bill. This is an essential step in making our community safer while supporting Connecticut businesses. This organization will make it easier for businesses to find cost alternatives to current formulas with minimizing their own research costs. As world markets often require different standards, access to this resource can help Connecticut businesses compete more effectively overseas.

Sue Harkness, Conversations for a Green Connecticut: supports the bill. Most people in Connecticut do not have the knowledge necessary to know everything about chemicals and the potential hazards that they may bring, and an institute such as the one mentioned in the bill would be the scientific and academic component that is so necessary, in addition to all of the other economic opportunities that it would provide. This would help Connecticut to lead in manufacturing products that families can trust. It is an economic development copportunity for green jobs growth and will assure that Connecticut products can be sold in the international market place. This will help our state businesses and the Connecticut economy as a whole, as well as protecting workers and consumers from exposure to toxins.

Moses Boone, resident of New Haven: supports the bill.

Renee Centore-Kelly, resident of Enfield: supports the bill. A Chemical Innovations Institute would follow in the spirit of protecting families while also being an economic development opportunity for Connecticut. Having safer chemical alternatives could provide long term savings for worker compensation, OSHA compliance costs, and waste disposal while not requiring the State to contribute financially.

Alison Barria, student at Fairfield University School of Nursing: supports the bill.

State Representative Lonnie Reed, Branford: supports the bill. It is an idea whose time has come. The institute would be proactive rather than reactive, bringing stakeholders to the table, enabling scientists, health professionals, industry representatives and regulators to work together in an ongoing effort to anticipate Chemical Policy initiatives from the European Union and a growing number of states including California, Washington State, Michigan, Minnesota and Maine. The institute could help companies track regulatory trends and make sense of new requirements; it could assist in the training of occupational health, safety and environmental staff, and in the dissemination of best practices for chemical management.

Business people are obligated to anticipate and respond to trends, and it is dangerous for them to sit back and do nothing as markets close their doors to their products. This bill would be a good step in securing the health of consumer. It would be good for the fiscal health of manufacturers and for the thousands of people who work for them.

Carolyn Stearns, resident of Mansfield: supports the bill.

Phil Sherwood, CCAG: supports the bill. This would foster green job growth and reduce the use of toxic chemicals that are increasingly linked to the rising incidence of numerous chronic diseases.

This concept of the institute would allow Connecticut to complement work being done in our neighboring states. Connecticut needs to act in the area of safer, green chemical alternatives in order to keep businesses up to date on international and national chemical policy changes. Not moving forward with this legislation given that increasingly comprehensive and sweeping chemical reforms that are being implemented in other countries puts Connecticut at a disadvantage, not only in the global market place, but at a regional disadvantage.

Andrea Cohen Kiener, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network: supports the bill. They are excited about the proposal for an institute at UConn to research best practices for bringing the safest chemical alternatives to the market. The institute could use research developing in other states and forums. It can create an important technical and economic resource for UConn and the state. I think this institute can bridge the cultural gap between business and health advocates such as me. Their research and recommendations can serve businesses who do not wish to poison their customers but who have no guidance as to what is truly dangerous in their product line and which alternatives are safer.

Dr. Mark Mitchell, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice: supports the bill. This legislation seeks to establish an institute to work with Connecticut business to find safer substitutes. CCEJ has been meeting with the University of Connecticut, businesses and with the CBIA to try to make sure that the Chemical Innovations Institute is of substantial benefit to Connecticut manufacturers in maintaining competitiveness and creating new green jobs.

Daniel Csuka, Connecticut Public Health Association: supports the bill. This can be expected to benefit the state and its citizens in a myriad of ways. First, it will enable Connecticut to both contribute to and tap into similar programs in other states so that we may all share valuable resources while working towards mutual goals. The Toxic Use Reduction Institute at UMass is one of these programs, and has experienced enormous success. Second, the Institute would help businesses save money through the adoption of more efficient and safer processes that enable them to compete in markets like that of Europe with more stringent chemicals regulations. Third, the most obvious benefit would be a reduction in health care costs associated with chronic diseases. Fourth, it would generate safe, green jobs. Fifth, and most importantly, the Institute would do all of these things without requiring the state to put forth any money at all.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Eric Brown, Connecticut Business and Industry Association: opposes the bill. CBIA would be pleased to work with the proponents of this bill to better achieve their understanding of its goals but opposes the current version. Part of the stated goal of the institute proposed in the bill would be to “provide assistance to businesses, state agencies and nonprofit organizations that seek to utilize safe alternatives to chemicals that are harmful to public health and the environment.” However, CBIA has serious concerns that the concept could easily result in an organization that is more interested in identifying chemicals of concern and involving itself in public policy efforts to ban or otherwise legislate those chemicals, all at the expense of some new mandated fee on industry.

Reported by: Jason Bowsza

Date: 3/30/2010