Formaldehyde bill clears key senate committee
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has passed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Act, S. 1660. Introduced in September by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), the legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national emission standard under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The Composite Panel Assn. made the announcement Dec. 11. The CPA, as well as a broad coalition of industry, environmental, health and labor organizations, including The Sierra Club, supported the legislation. The full Senate is expected to act on the bill in January.

Under the proposed legislation, particleboard, MDF and hardwood plywood made or sold in the U.S. — and products made from them — would have to meet the formaldehyde emission ceilings in California’s recently adopted emissions standard. The amended legislation calls for EPA to act by Jan. 1, 2012, with the regulation to go into effect 180 days after promulgation. If passed by Congress, this will give the United States one of the toughest production standards in the world.

“I’ve always believed that the first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “These standards will both protect public health and ensure an even playing field between domestic wood products and foreign imports.”

In addition to establishing the national standard, this legislation would:

• Direct EPA to establish third-party testing and certification requirements to ensure that products comply with the national standard;

• Direct EPA to work with Customs and Border Protection and other relevant federal agencies to enforce the standards for both domestic and imported wood products; and

• Direct EPA to establish other necessary implementation and enforcement regulations.

“Senator Klobuchar deserves high praise for taking the lead on this important legislation and securing an important bipartisan accomplishment yesterday,” said Tom Julia, CPA president. He also thanked Republican Senators Inhofe, Crapo and Vitter for not permitting the Committee’s vote to become a partisan matter and for recognizing that American jobs are at stake.

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