Ban on toxic baby bottles appears dead - killed by the Speaker from Coca-Cola?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

The bill that would ban the use of the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A, or BPA, in baby bottles and sippy cups appears to have died an unceremonious death on Monday afternoon.

As noted by public radio correspondent Chris Lehman, Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for bills passed in the Senate to be scheduled for a work session in a House committee (and vice versa):

Bills that died today have already been approved by a majority of lawmakers in one chamber, but for various reasons failed to generate enough support in the second chamber.

At this point, that appears to be the fate for Senate Bill 695, a measure that would ban the use of BPA in children's beverage containers. Environmental groups call it one of their top priorities this session, and the bill passed the Senate 20-9 last month. But as of late this afternoon, SB 695 had not been scheduled for any work session in the House Energy, Environment & Water Committee, where it resides.

It's one of the more bizarre situations in the Oregon Legislature. Across the country, bans on Bisphenol-A have passed with strong bipartisan majorities in a number of legislatures. (After all, as a toxic substance that harms fetuses - it tends to win support all the way from enviros to pro-lifers.)

And yet, despite a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate, the bill is stalled in the Oregon House.

I'm not privy to all the wheeling and dealing down there on this particular bill, but it occurs to me that the primary opponents of this bill are the people who make packaging products -- and the Republican co-Speaker, Bruce Hanna, is the president of Roseburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Coca-Cola readily admits that it uses Bisphenol-A to line its cans. From their corporate website:

Do Coca-Cola packages contain Bisphenol A, which has been said to have health risks? Currently, the only commercially viable lining systems for the mass production of aluminum beverage cans contain BPA. This is the industry standard, and reliable scientific evidence indicates that the levels of BPA associated with can linings are safe.

Coke's support for using Bisphenol-A is so strong that activist website Change.org called Coke "one of the most notoriously pro-BPA companies" last year.

How bad is Coke's stubborn behavior? Earlier this year, at the company's annual meeting, 26% of Coke shareholders voted to stop using Bisphenol-A. And yet, Coke continues to cling to the toxic substance. (At most companies a 10% shareholder vote is enough to spark changes.)

So, here's what I want to know: Has Bruce Hanna excused himself from the internal deliberations over Senate Bill 695? He's got a pretty darn clear conflict of interest as a major user of the toxic substance in his business.

Otherwise, we're going to have to start calling him Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Coke) instead of Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).

As Chris Lehman notes, there may yet be hope for SB 695:

But of course, it's always true that no bill is truly dead until the final gavel falls. ... a bill that appears dead may be resurrected in another form by being stuffed into a measure that's still alive, assuming that there's a "relating clause" that allows this.

And, toward the end of session, legislative leaders have broad power to, well, make things happen. Supporters of the BPA ban said this afternoon that they're holding out hope for a last minute intervention. But with an evenly divided House, it's unclear whether there's the political consensus to move the bill to a vote.

Here's hoping that SB 695 can get up off the mat.

Comments

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    he noted his "potential conflict" during the Bottle Bill debate. with Vicki Berger as co-sponsor, and action years down the road, that was not as easy to block. this apparently was. and he'll probably get away with it.

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    Irony: CA State Assembly passed its BPA Ban yesterday (5/24), the day Oregon failed to move its version out of a House committee: http://californianewswire.com/2011/05/24/CNW9015_012233.php.

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    I stay away from canned food whenever possible. I will be dying of thirst next time I drink a damn Coke.

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    Unless this bill is revived, Oregon will be officially behind China and Malaysia in protecting our kids from toxic BPA.

    http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2011/03/14/china-malaysia-latest-nations-ban-bpa

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    I'm trying to figure out which products that Hanna's company produces would be hit by this bill, as it doesn't appear to affect Coke's core products (other than bad PR for BPA, which may be significant).

    Baby bottles? Reusable containers?

    From the bill: (2) 'Child's beverage container' means any empty baby bottle or spill-proof cup... (3) [reusable] 'Container' means an individual bottle or can designed to contain food or liquid for human consumption that is commercially available but does not include a container intended for disposal after initial use.

    Or is it the anti-BPA advisory committee that it sets up that might affect Hanna's business?

    The labeling requirement for metal coke cans and infant formula provisions were removed in Senate committee.

    Can someone who's been working the bill clarify?

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      I don't think it would. But Coke's objection to any movement on the issue has been of the "slippery slope" variety, ie first baby bottles, then soda pop.

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    If only the Democrats had a supermajority, I am sure they would defeat it ;-)

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    BPA is just today’s target in a never-ending war by environmentalists to eliminate from the environment anything humanly manufactured. This attitude can be summed up with one word: chemophobia – the unreasonable conviction that all chemicals are bad and that all things loosely defined as “natural” are good. Fear makes it difficult for anyone – let alone politicians – to take a rational look at the issue, especially when ban proponents are pulling the “Do you hate children?” card.

    It seems that finally reason and objectivity win the debate this time in Salem.

    http://cascadepolicy.org/news/2011/04/26/the-abcs-of-environmental-hysteria-activists-bisphenol-a-and-children/

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    It should also be noted that legislation to tax and or regulate sugar sweetened beverages(such as coca cola)which are the leading contributors to obesity and diabetes, also died in the House.Probably for the very same reason.

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