Portland physician planning all-products ban on Bisphenol-A if SB 695 fails

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

The O's Scott Learn unearthed a political bombshell yesterday. In a story about the presumed death of SB 695 - the bill to ban the toxic Bisphenol-A from baby bottles and sippy cups - he reports that Portland physician Gregg Coodley is planning a 2012 ballot measure on the issue.

But the ballot measure wouldn't just ban Bisphenol-A from products for infants and toddlers; it would ban it across the board.

In Oregon's House, it looks like a ban on bisphenol-A in baby bottles, sippy cups and some formula containers may not even come to a vote.

The legislative logjam infuriates environmental, health and labor groups supporting the BPA ban, also backed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Supporters say recent polling commissioned by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters shows strong prospects for a statewide ballot measure if the Legislature doesn't act.

Jon Isaacs, the league's executive director, said supporters will "definitely" go to the ballot if the bill doesn't pass. A Portland primary care physician, Gregg Coodley, said Tuesday he would file a measure that would ban BPA in all food and beverage containers.

"There's just an amazing amount of evidence of the toxicity of bisphenols," Coodley said. "We're behind the curve on this."

Of course, as noted previously by public radio's Chris Lehman, "no bill is truly dead until the final gavel falls" mostly because "toward the end of session, legislative leaders have broad power to, well, make things happen."

The O's Scott Learn shared an "interested parties" polling memo (Word document) that indicates that a ballot measure to ban Bisphenol-A would win support from 80% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans.

OLCV executive director Jon Isaacs says his organization would strongly consider supporting Coodley's ballot measure if SB 695 fails.

That's a tall hill for opponents to climb -- something that co-Speaker Bruce Hanna (R-Coke) might want to think very carefully about. If Bisphenol-A is banned in all products in Oregon, his Coca-Cola bottling plant is going to have to work very fast to come up with an alternative plan.

Update, 11:32 p.m.: I just spoke with Dr. Coodley about the ballot measure he's planning. Here's how he described the measure:

What I'm proposing -- what we're planning to file in the next few days -- is an initiative to ban Bisphenol-A. And not just from infant containers but from all food and beverage containers. It's a stronger piece of legislation. We're also considering banning Bisphenol-containing paper, basically receipts. You can get signature exposure from receipts through the fingers.

Regarding the chances of the measure, Coodley said, "The polling is very strong. If we put this forward, the chance of passage would be very, very high."

But if SB 695 passes, Coodley noted, "We'd have to think about it. It's a different measure. But it would be a lot less imperative."

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    This post has been slightly edited since it first went up an hour ago.

    The initial version indicated that the proposed measure would be authored by OLCV. Rather, it would be authored by Portland physician Gregg Coodley.

    OLCV has indicated they would strongly consider supporting such a measure, if SB 695 fails.

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    Dr Coodley has had success at raising money and gathering signatures for ballot measure campaigns in the past. I see this as a much more credible threat than the Humane Society's promise to collect signatures on the commercial chicken issue.

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      The Humane Society is one of the most frequent and successful users of ballot measures in the nation.

      Per their summary: Between 1990 and 2008, animal advocates squared off against factory farmers, hunters, and other animal industries in 41 statewide ballot campaigns, winning in 28 campaigns and marking a huge surge in the use of the process on animal issues.

      Whether they've got the right issue and would get the right ballot language on the chicken issue, I don't know. But they're one of the few groups who've proven the willingness and ability to take things to the ballot.

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        Yes. But I haven't seen them do it here in the 10 years that I've been involved in working the Initiative and Referendum, and my firm and its principals have collected most of the signatures on the last three or non-right wing measures to make the ballot in recent years.

        I've seen Dr. Coodley raise money and gather signatures. With OLCV's backing, I have no doubt that they can put this on the ballot.

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    I just updated my post with a brief interview with Dr. Coodley regarding his measure.

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    i attended the House & Senate committee hearings on this, and if a ban-all-bpa initiative makes the ballot, expect the canning & chemical industries to spend millions. and win. they'll have ads with farm workers: "this will kill our jobs". they'll have ads with moms: "our family's food will rot on the shelf". they'll pound this thing so hard, it'll lose by 15-20 points. we've seen it before. why does anyone thing Oregonians will be smarter this time than in the past?

    a successful ballot measure would be to take SB 695 to the voters, exactly as it was taken to the Leg. the message here is simple: "Don't poison our babies." and how do they respond to that? "Um, please don't vote for something that might someday maybe lead to something else...." this one is an easy win, and a strong rebuke to Hanna. the other is a guaranteed loss.

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