Great post over on greenState about the power and implications of the E.U.’s new REACH regulations (it stands for “Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals”). As Grist readers — but few in the U.S. public — probably know, very few of the 30,000 some chemicals on the market have been tested for safety. We’re testing them — you, me, our children — right now, by using them. REACH says that companies must test chemicals, and publicly post the results, before putting them on the market.

Naturally, this scares the shit out of chemical companies, and they’re doing everything they can to derail it, with the help of their handmaidens in the Bush administration. But the E.U. has become a global economic power, and we might not be able to manipulate them at will. Says greenState:

As the EU has an economy similar in size to the U.S., it will become difficult for the $500 billion chemical industry to develop one set of products for Europe and another set for the U.S. Once REACH is in place, citizens around the world will be able to access detailed information on the safety of chemical products, and use that information to force their own governments to pass similar laws. California has already indicated its desire to enact regulations similar to REACH, and other governments are sure to follow suit.

So this may be a new development for political activists in the U.S., that decisions in Europe can affect health and environmental standards around the world. But considering the current political climate in America, this comes as welcome news. Let’s hope that the EU continues to pursue aggressive environmental legislation, and that corporate lobbyists do not succeed in weakening such legislation the way they have in the U.S.