• Potential Amendments to California Composite Wood Products Regulation
  • August 2, 2011 | Authors: Komal K. Jain; Peter L. de la Cruz
  • Law Firm: Keller and Heckman LLP - Washington Office
  • On August 23, 2011, The California Air Resources Board ("CARB") will hold a public workshop to discuss proposed amendments to the Airborne Toxic Control Measure to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood ("ATCM"). Proposed amendments relate to how laminated products are evaluated, the third party certification program, and best practices in meeting requirements for testing methods. California's activities also have implications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA") rulemaking under Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA"),[1] as EPA has stated that it plans to substantially mirror the ATCM.[2]

    By way of background, since April 2008, the ATCM has regulated formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, including panels and finished goods sold in California. Stringent emission standards, known as Phase II standards, affect manufacturers, distributors, importers, fabricators, and retailers of Hardwood Plywood Veneer Core ("HWPW-VC"); Particleboard ("PB"), Medium Density Fiberboard ("MDF," thickness > 8mm), Thin MDF (thickness = 8mm); and HWPW - Composite Core ("CC").[3]

    On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act into law ("FSA" or "Act"). The FSA sets formaldehyde emission limits for HWPW, PB and MDF that are identical to the Phase II CARB limits. Under the Act, EPA must promulgate regulations by January 1, 2013. Pursuant to the FSA, EPA must determine whether laminated products should be exempt from the definition of HWPW (and thereby exempt from Phase II CARB limits).[4] Hence, California's treatment of laminated products should be watched for both its effect on products sold in California and on the ultimate form of the federal rule.

    The public workshop will be held from 9AM to 2PM (Pacific Time) at the Byron Sher Auditorium at Cal/EPA Headquarters (Joe Serna Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California). It will also be available via webcast at: http://www.calepa.ca.gov/broadcast.

    [1] 15 U.S.C. 2601 as amended by S. 1660 111th Cong. § 2 (Jul. 7, 2010).

    [2] 73 Fed. Reg. 73,620 (Dec. 3, 2008).

    [3] Effective Jan. 1, 2010 for HWPW - VC; Jan. 1, 2011 for PB and MDF; Jan. 1, 2012 for Thin MDF; and Jul. 1, 2012 for HWPW - CC. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 17, § 93120.2 (2008) (available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2007/compwood07/fro-final.pdf, last visited Jul. 29, 2011).

    [4] 15 U.S.C. 2601 as amended by S. 1660 111th Cong. § 2 (Jul. 7, 2010), adding TSCA §§ 601(a)(3)(C).