Editor’s Note: Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC), issued this press release following the Aug. 18 veto by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of AB 1824, a bill designed to limit the types of chemicals for RV holding tanks in that state. CalARVC supported the bill and some of its members lobbied for its signing by the governor.
It is with great disappointment that we report Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto of AB 1824 last week. With only three nay votes in the entire legislature, we had hoped that the governor would see the truly bi-partisan support of the bill. While being a pro-environmental issue, this was also a pro-small business issue. We thought the combination of these two items, along with our members’ letter writing campaign, would convince the governor to sign the bill. However, the governor, backing his Green Chemistry Initiative Program, chose to veto the bill.
What is the Green Chemistry Initiative? Perhaps you will remember the legislation from several years ago banning certain chemicals in plastics, specifically the type of plastic in baby bottles. The scientists put forth evidence on both sides contradicting each other’s findings. During that same year, 11 other chemical related bills tried to make their way through the legislature. Eventually, the legislators and the governor threw their hands in the air, knowing that none of them had the collective education to understand the science behind each piece of legislation. As a result, the Governor created the Green Chemistry Initiative, a process by which chemical issues will now be thoroughly researched by the California Department of Toxic and Substance Control (CTSC). Their findings will create regulations in which to address each individual issue.
CalARVC submitted our holding tank issue to the Green Chemistry Initiative in November of 2007. However, because of our close work with CTSC, they told us up front that it will be years before our issue gets to the “top of the pile.” Knowing that CTSC would be tackling issues that affect the greatest populations first, we grappled with the decision to move forward with AB 1824. But with the support of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board, we decided it was worth the risk.
So, what’s next politically? Our Government Affairs Committee will be reviewing our next strategic steps in September. RVIA, FMCA and the major chemical companies have offered to meet and find mutually beneficial solutions. While chemical based treatment products are a major problem for septic and small municipal treatment facilities, it is not the only challenge facing campground operators in regards to wastewater output. Perhaps the combined efforts of everyone in the industry can find ways to work together. And even though the campground industry is a relatively small piece of this great industry, without successful campgrounds, all other parts of the industry will suffer.
We will chock this battle up to a loss, but are pleased about the amount of conversation we created around the country within and outside our industry. More, now than ever, awareness of the problems surrounding chemically based holding tank products is at its greatest point.
Thetford, the largest manufacturer of chemical based products, launched their Eco-Smart line in January of 2009. Dometic Corp. has permanently removed formaldehyde from the contents of its products. Just last month ELS, the largest owner of RV & manufactured housing communities, announced a brand new product—free of formaldehyde and other chemicals. Then there have been the longtime believers in bacterial or enzyme based products all along: Eco-Save, Heartland Labs, just to name a few. The tide is coming in and it is our sincere hope that these companies will choose to support fellow members of their industry rather than continue to sell problematic, environmental-unfriendly and hazardous products here in California and around the country. We ask campgrounds and aftermarket stores to only stock environmentally safe and septic tank friendly bacteria or enzyme based RV holding tank products.
We’ll take a lesson from Canada’s “Camp Green, Canada” campaign and create our own “Camp Green, California.” We will create a central point for consumers and campground operators to access resources. We’ll provide links to the best research we can find, the EPA alert and the Univ. of Arizona publications. We’ll provide a complete list of all products available and their contents.
So, yes, we lost this battle. But with the help of our members, consumers and the collective RV industry, we hope to win the war!