By Lynn L. Bergeson and Lisa R. Burchi
In a significant victory for industry, on August 27, 2019, the State of New York Supreme Court invalidated the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (Disclosure Program). Information related to NYDEC’s prior delay of its enforcement of its Disclosure Program is available here, and general information regarding the Program and its extensive requirements for manufacturers of certain consumer cleaning products to disclose information regarding the ingredients in those products is available here.
Two trade associations, the Household and Commercial Cleaning Products Association (HCPA) and the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) (Petitioners), filed the lawsuit last October. Petitioners sought declaratory relief and a judgment invalidating the Disclosure Program on the basis that the Program was a “rule” for which NYDEC did not comply with its State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) rulemaking procedures. Petitioners also argued that the Program was established in violation of Article IV Section 8 of the New York State Constitution, was issued in excess of NYDEC’s statutory authority, and was arbitrary and irrational.
The court found that the Disclosure Program was established in violation of SAPA and the New York State Constitution. In making this finding, the court held that the Program was a “rule” as argued by Petitioners and not “guidance” for which adherence to SAPA was not required, as argued by NYDEC. The court also found that “since there is no opt out provision whereby petitioners may choose to deviate from the program, the Disclosure Program is not mere guidance.” The Disclosure Program is thus “null and void and the matter is remitted back to DEC with the directive to comply with SAPA.” Since the decision was reached based on violations of SAPA, the court did not address the other bases upon which Petitioners sought to invalidate the Program. A more detailed analysis and commentary are available in our August 30, 2019, memorandum, “NY Department of Environmental Conservation Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program Ruled ‘Null and Void.’”