Handing environmentalists a long-awaited victory, the state Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Gov. George Deukmejian did not have the authority to strictly limit the number of cancer-causing chemicals governed by Proposition 65.
The three-judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling issued more than two years ago in which Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roger K. Warren ordered Deukmejian to add 201 chemicals to the list of substances covered by the anti-toxics initiative.
Deukmejian had contended that only 26 chemicals proven to cause cancer specifically in humans should be covered by Proposition 65. In issuing his opinion, Warren said the governor's interpretation of the law was "strained and tortured."
The appellate court upheld Warren's decision that chemicals known to cause cancer in animals are covered by the law since they are likely to cause cancer in humans as well.
"The act applies to those chemicals which respected scientific agencies have already determined cause cancer or reproductive toxicity in humans or animals," the court said in its opinion. "Our decision simply enforces the will of the people."
The ruling will mean the addition of about two dozen chemicals to the list of those covered by the initiative, since most of the 201 substances at issue have since been added to the list individually by the Deukmejian Administration. In addition, as federal scientific agencies discover other carcinogens, these will be added to the Proposition 65 list.