Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not You Too Cali-For-Nia!

It seems that whoever it is leading the chemical industry lobbying effort on BPA in California deserves a raise and voters should call in the truant officers.

California Assembly Rejects Two Bills on Chemical Bans

An avalanche of lobbying buried two bills in the Assembly on Monday that sought to ban controversial chemicals from fast food containers, microwave popcorn bags and baby bottles.

The measures, Senate Bill 1713 by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and Senate Bill 1313, by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, were the targets of large and well-heeled "working groups" of lobbyists employed by chemical companies, manufacturers and trade associations.

Corbett's bill sought to prohibit the use of perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, from food packaging. The compounds, which are used to prevent grease from leaking through bags and wrappers, have already been abandoned by some companies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called for a voluntary ban by 2015.

The bill needed 41 votes to be sent back to the Senate, but fell five votes short, with 11 members not voting.

Migden's bill would have banned the use of bisphenol A, or BPA, from containers for children less than 3 years of age, such as baby bottles and "sippie" cups.

It died on a 27-to-31 vote, with 22 abstentions. Both bills were granted reconsideration, a legislative term that means they are still on life support.

Proponents of both measures said there was enough evidence to suggest potential health hazards from the chemicals, and that the state should not wait for federal action.

Several legislators also objected to what they called heavy-handed efforts to pressure them to vote no.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, held up a brochure that had been distributed in her district that depicted a full grocery bag and suggested none of the contents could be sold if the Migden bill passed.

"None of these would be eliminated from the marketplace," she said. "It is an extremely deceptive tactic, and I think ... we ought not to reward the American Chemical Council by rejecting this bill."

But legislators opposed to the measures, while acknowledging the lobbying effort had been annoying, contended the Legislature lacks the expertise to decide what chemicals are or aren't safe, and that the market was a better judge of what are acceptable levels of risk.

"Just because you have something that can be toxic doesn't make it toxic," said Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

No comments: