BPA, the Chamber of Commerce, and a Summer Road Trip to Remember

by Shana Campbell Jones

July 05, 2011

Let’s go on a road trip. Whether it’s the beach or the mountains, we all know what going on a road trip means: great memories, possible adventure, time to mosey around the country we love. The Chamber of Commerce is also planning a road trip this summer, headed by former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Andrew Card, George W. Bush’s former chief of staff. But fun and relaxation are not on the itinerary. Regulations that could protect our children are.

At ThinkProgress, CPR Member Scholar Sid Shapiro explained why the anti-regulation roadshow is ridiculous because of all the myths and misinformation it’s designed to promote. He’s right, of course, but, as a mother, I want to add another perspective. I’m tired of the well-worn refrain that “excessive” regulations “suck the vitality” out of the economy. Not only is the claim false, but it completely ignores all the time, money, and energy caregivers would save if we didn’t have to be on the lookout for toxics in our food and consumer products – the results of inadequate regulation.

Senator Bayh and Mr. Card, have you gone shopping for sippy cups lately? Have you purchased canned food, wondering if the linings contain BPA? Do you bite your tongue when a well-meaning teacher gives your child a plastic toy for good work from the “prize box”? Do you wonder if you need to replace your water pipes? Do you spend hours on the Internet researching safe products, or do you feel guilt because you have given up?

Talk about “sucking the vitality” out of the economy – the household economy that is. Apparently, the hours upon hours that mothers spend researching safe products and then scouring the Internet or grocery store to find them don’t count in the analysis. After all, what would we be doing otherwise? Tending to our kids?

And if you think the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have BPA in its crosshairs, think again. Last month, the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, calling on him to strong-arm EPA into suspending an initiative to list six substances as "Chemicals of Concern."  (Read a letter from CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor, Noah Sachs, and Wendy Wagner explaining just exactly how the Chamber misread the law.) BPA is one of the chemicals on the Chamber hit list. Rest assured that the anti-regulatory roadshow is designed in part to stymie any proactive regulatory action the Administration might take, including on BPA. 

It’s summer – a time for picnics, bug bites, and trips to anywhere and everywhere.   Apparently, it’s also a time for the Chamber of Commerce and its anti-regulatory roadshow to hit the road. If only they really would.

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Shana Campbell Jones, J.D., is a consultant to the Center for Progressive Reform on Chesapeake Bay issues.  She joined CPR in 2007 as a policy analyst, and took on the role of executive director in 2009, before leaving the staff to teach environmental policy at Old Dominion University.

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