Posted on Jul 28, 2010
John M Grau
A few weeks ago, a bill sailed through the House and the Senate with little fanfare. The President signed it into law on July 7. It creates a national standard for formaldehyde use based on an existing California standard. It was supported by industries that are subject to its regulations.
So what? Why do I bring this to your attention?
The reason is that it highlights some interesting trends going on in our country.
One is that California and Europe set our national standards for consumer protection and environmental issues. The European Union loves these kinds of regulations and is the leader in creating them. It’s said that California would join the European Union if it could. The next best step is to adopt their regulations. Soon the East Coast states fall in line and, the next thing you know, they apply in Iowa and Oklahoma as well.
The second point is that Congress is now into setting national standards, and businesses are supporting and encouraging it. Not long ago, states rights advocates and most industries fought the adoption of national standards. They thought they were better off with the states. But state laws starting getting crazy, and it made it difficult to produce products for a national market. So businesses would rather have one standard than 50 different ones. And if you sell internationally, a global standard makes sense, too.
The third point is that the public appears to be in favor of national regulation as well. While many people think Congress over-reached in some of its current legislation, they did want some kind of health care reform, financial regulation, and environmental oversight. The fall elections may change the leadership of Congress next year, but you can bet that national regulations will keep coming.
So while most of us haven’t messed with formaldehyde since high school biology class, the new national standard for its use gives us some insight into the way of regulation in the future.