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Auto Industry Hot Topics: Current Priorities and Emerging Issues

priorities - blog

This is part of a series in which we recap sessions from the 2023 IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference held on October 17-18, 2023, at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan.

What are the major chemicals regulatory and legislative issues so far and what's to come? Those key questions were answered in a session at the 2023 IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference titled “Auto Industry Hot Topics: Current Priorities and Emerging Issues.”

The presentation was given by Catherine Palin, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation’s Senior Attorney and Director of Environmental Policy. She discussed the alliance’s policy priorities of 2023: PFAS; TSCA and LCSA implementation; and consumer products regulations and legislation. She also highlighted some big issues coming up in the policy space for 2024 and beyond: the continued growth of the aforementioned issues; plastics; and 6PPD-Quinone. Here were some highlights.



Palin and the alliance spend much of their time talking about PFAS at the state and federal levels. They express the need for a more restrictive definition of PFAS; they discuss the critical, essential, and unavoidable use of PFAS to make vehicles; and they explain the automotive industry’s need for more time to meet reporting and phaseout requirements.

Looking ahead, Palin predicts, “There’s going to be potentially reporting programs on PFAS in more states ... probably any state with a democratic-leaning government ... and we’ll probably see more at the federal level too in this similar sort of response.”

TSCA and LCSA Implementation

When advocates at the alliance talk about TSCA and LSCA to the EPA, they ask them to respect exemptions and exclusions that are in the statute for articles and replacement parts. They educate them on how the automotive industry uses the chemicals. They correct them on recent assumptions made regarding manufacturing and safety protocols. And lastly, they present compliance cost estimates.

“We’ll see EPA continuing to set precedent in TSCA and their Lautenberg (Chemical Safety Act) implementation,” she foresees. “They’re already coming out with new lists of chemicals that they are telling us our next up for risk evaluation going through this process. We’re going to see more rules come out.”

Consumer Products Regulations and Legislation

When Palin and the alliance talk about consumer products’ chemical restrictions, they raise awareness of the critical uses of these substances in the auto industry. “They tend not to be thinking of products like ours,” she says. “We can’t take a lot of these things out of (vehicle) consumer products.”

Projecting forward, she says, “We’ll see more consumer products, programs, and regulation, more states take up bills that have been seen in other states, potentially, more chemicals covered under [recent] California and Washington (safer products) programs.”



"Plastics is practically the new PFAS,” Palin says. She and the alliance foresee it becoming a growth area for legislators and regulators on the federal and international levels, and they are concerned that attempts to address plastics will involve restrictions on the manufacturing side and what sorts of plastics can go into vehicles.

In extended producer responsibility, the alliance is concerned about an attempt to regulate packaging and make companies that are putting packaging out into the world or sending it to consumers responsible for that packaging. While there isn’t packaging on finished cars being delivered per se, there is when it comes to parts movement, such as to keep parts safe as they move throughout the industry and are en route to dealerships.


Some recent studies have concluded that 6PPD-quinone, a transformation product of 6PPD in tires, is harming coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest. The science on this area is in the incipient stage, Palin says. Regulators are starting to look at it, including California’s Safer Consumer Products program and EPA.

“As far as I'm aware, there's no replacement substance for 6PPD, so we are hoping that these evaluations of it will find that it's a critical use, and that we can't phase it out,” Palin says. “But I'm wondering if others — more states, more NGOs — will start to regulate that chemical at a different level.”

As Palin outlined in her presentation, there are several priorities and issues to watch in the automotive industry.


These topics and more will be covered at the 2024 Hybrid IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference from October 15-16, 2024, at Laurel Manor in Livonia, Michigan. Registration is now open.

About the Presenter

Catherine Palin provides legal advice on regulatory and litigation matters for all environmental and energy issues at Auto Innovators. She also manages the association’s policy on chemicals and substances of concern. She joined the Auto Alliance from Kelley Drye, where she handled environment and energy regulatory and enforcement issues for a variety of trade associations and industries, including heavy-duty and nonroad engines



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