Landmark formaldehyde legislation urged by the Composite Panel Association (CPA) and others passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote on June 23, after being approved by the unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate a week earlier (CLICK HERE for that story).

The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, S. 1660, will establish the first comprehensive national standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, and directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promulgate implementing regulations by January 1, 2013. These regulations will be effective 180 days after promulgation.

“This is a historic moment for the North American composite panel industry, which has always been at the forefront of environmental stewardship,” says Tom Julia, CPA president. “The legislation represents a responsible, bipartisan approach to advancing consumer protection, fair trade and domestic jobs.”

The emission limitations called for in the legislation are modeled on a regulation adopted by California in 2008.

“The result will be the toughest production standard in the world, including provisions to ensure that products made with composite wood panels meet the standard,” Julia adds. “The legislation also will encourage the development of lower-emitting adhesive technologies and establish a transparent chain of custody for purposes of enforcement. Manufacturer quality assurance requirements and third party testing and certification of panel products will give consumers the highest confidence in the composite wood products they purchase, regardless of where in the world they are manufactured.”

The legislation, introduced last fall by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), quickly garnered strong bipartisan support in the Senate. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) earlier this year.

“I want to specifically thank the Composite Panel Association for their partnership on this legislation, and for their tremendous efforts to help guide this bill through Congress – from introduction to passage,” says Congresswoman Matsui. “This is an enormous victory for American consumers and manufacturers alike.”

CPA and the Sierra Club initially drafted the legislation in late 2008, and a broad coalition of stakeholders soon joined the effort.

“This has been a model of consensus based public policymaking, with all stakeholders at the table and all views respected,” Julia said. “It should also remind us that Congress can act decisively and effectively when the interests of the American people are at stake.”

The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for signature.

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