E.U. parliament passes new chemical standard, businesses brace for impact

Call it the vote heard ’round the world: yesterday, the E.U. parliament passed a landmark law that has global bizfolk quivering. REACH — Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals — requires about 30,000 chemicals to be registered with a new agency, with about 1,500 of the most harmful facing extra scrutiny. Called “the world’s most ambitious piece of legislation on public health and environment protection,” the new deal — which, during years of tweaking, saw lots o’ compromise — caused grumbling on both sides. “This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry, rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign,” said parliament member Caroline Lucas. But industry would have taken a fruitcake: “It’s a poor use of time, energy, and resources,” said Steven Russell of the American Chemistry Council. “A really historic amount of work and expense will have to focus on the implementation.” The law will creep in over 11 years, leaving plenty of whine time.