Green Thoughts

On news sources, the Lacey Act and a new TB 117

July 19, 2012

News aggregators aren't necessarily a bad thing. I've found one that gives me a nice dose about what's trending in environmental topics and it's worth recommending.

Environmental Health News, a publishing site funded by foundations that don't accept funding from interest groups, offers a daily newsletter that aggregates content from The Guardian, New York Times and The Nation, among a slew of others papers.

The newsletter consists of 10 or more stories that cover topics like fracking, energy use, food and water safety, carbon footprints, climate and environmental change, among others.

If you want to keep track of the big issues in the green category, this daily newsletter will give you a daily fill of the most important stories.

The Lacey Act

The amendments to 2008's wood amendments to the Lacey Act could be up for a vote in U.S. House of Representatives soon. The rules weaken the 2008 amendments signed into law by President George W. Bush to prohibit illegal logging.

While it might be easy to predict what could happen in the Republican controlled House, who knows what a Democratic controlled Senate will do.

Upholstered Furniture

Whatever approach California takes in its draft of Technical Bulletin 117-2012 to revising the old upholstered furniture flammability standard, it must be considered carefully.

Organizations like the National Fire Protection Agency have reported more than significant decreases in fires caused by smolder ignition (smoking materials) and civilian deaths in the last three decades.

We'll have an update about the California draft rule soon. There are already some concerns. But rulemaking is in its early stage

You'd be forgiven for having reservations about what's going to happen, given the state's penchant for sometimes questionable final rules.

California's regulations on formaldehyde in composite panel caused a lot of disruption in the industry. The state wound up having to extend deadlines several times on businesses complying with the rules.

The state's Proposition 65 - intended to protect Californians from chemicals known to cause cancer - has seen some pretty well known furniture suppliers targeted in the last year too.

With upholstery flammability, I guess the industry doesn't have much choice.

Seems like it would be more prudent for the state to have a stopgap measure until a federal rule was in place, but I'm not sure that's possible. Isn't it a waste of time for the state to create a de facto national standard, while the federal government is creating national standard at the same time?

Maybe I'm missing something.

Not to mention that we probably wouldn't even be having this discussion if the Chicago Tribune hadn't highlighted the issue with its series on rules guided more by lobbying than sound science.

I have questions out to the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation about its structure, the frequency with which its advisory board meets and what exactly its rulemaking procedures are.

It sounds like a rule could come down in a year, but rulemaking is seldom a smooth, quick and easy process.

I hope I hear back from the BHFTI. I'll let you know if I don't.