Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

Five Steps Down the Line

Posted by: Paul Austin Updated: October 6, 2010 - 2:56 PM

Last weekend, an informative piece was published comparing the records and positions of the candidates for Governor on environmental and energy issues.  There weren’t a lot of surprises.  But one comment did jump out at me.

Tom Emmer told why he was 1 of only 5 house members to vote against banning use of the toxic chemical BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.  Early exposure to BPA in laboratory animals has been linked to later mammary and prostate cancer, genital defects in males, early onset of puberty in females, obesity and behavior problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Emmer’s reason for opposing the ban - “increased costs.”   As well-intentioned as people may be, he said, "they don't think about what this vote means five steps down the line.''

So let's think about what this ban means “five steps down the line”.  There is no proof that it will cost baby bottle producers a little more to use safe materials, but let's assume that it does.  That increased cost would be passed on to the consumer.  I think most consumers would be happy to pay a little more for a product that won’t harm their child.  I know I would.  That is where the possible costs of voting for the ban end.

If Emmer’s position had prevailed, the costs to society and taxpayers would just keep on coming.  The future health care costs to treat cancers and obesity.  The educational costs of behavioral problems and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.  The stress, sadness, and financial hardship of the Minnesota families who would face these challenges. 

As a father, I’m willing to pay a little extra to protect the health of my children.  I wish Emmer would have taken his own advice and thought about the costs “five steps down the line.”    I am glad that, in this case, Governor Pawlenty and bipartisan majorities of the House and Senate did just that! 


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