LePage motives on BPA policy, Mills firing questioned

AUGUSTA — As Gov. Paul LePage continued to weather national fallout for recently saying women could develop "little beards" if exposed to bisphenol-A, or BPA, questions continue to mount about the motives behind the governor's proposal to reverse a ban on the substance.

Questions also hover over the administration's Wednesday dismissal of Dr. Dora Anne Mills, the medical director of MaineCare and formerly the head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, as head of the CDC, Mills testified that BPA should become a priority chemical banned under the state's Kid-Safe Products Act.

Dan Demeritt, a spokesman for the governor, said Thursday that Mills' dismissal "was not linked in any way" to Mills' public support of the BPA ban.

But some Democrats aren't convinced. Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, hoped Mills wasn't fired because of her stance on BPA, while Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, was convinced that she was.

"I think they're getting rid of anybody actually proposing science that the chemical lobby doesn’t agree with," Duchesne said. "They’re just getting rid of those people in this administration. They’re gone."

Demeritt also denied that the administration attempted to remove from the CDC website a fact page outlining the risks of BPA. The page went down Thursday morning and was spotted by the progressive blogger Gerald Weinand. The page was reactivated following a reporter inquiry.

Demeritt said an adjoining Web page was "under construction" and caused the CDC page to fail. He said, "It didn’t come down as any kind of purge of BPA information."

However, Demeritt said he couldn't promise that BPA information wouldn't change because LePage "isn't convinced that the science is there" to back it up. He said the site could be updated to include information from the World Health Organization, which maintains that evidence against BPA is "too weak" to support banning the substance. 

The administration's argument that a BPA ban should be backed by "consensus science" hasn't diminished criticism that LePage's more controversial reform proposals were advanced by chemical corporations with no business interests in Maine.

That suspicion was reinforced following an investigative story by journalist Colin Woodard and a report by the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Both stories highlighted an eight-digit tracking number on LePage's reform proposal that matched the document signature used by Preti, Flaherty, Believeau and Pachios, a lobbying firm with considerable influence in the State House.

Ann Robinson, who leads the firm's lobbying group, was a lead member of the governor's transition team. Demeritt recently confirmed that she took the lead in drafting the reform package.

Lobbyist disclosure documents with the Maine ethics commission show Robinson lobbied for several corporations that stand to benefit from LePage's regulation rollbacks, including the Toy Industry Association of America, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and Merck. Robinson worked for PhRMA and Merck when the corporations tried to defeat the Kid-Safe Products Act in 2008.

The evaluative law is designed to get rid of chemicals in children's products, such as toys and clothes. Last year, BPA was added to the list of banned chemicals. According to lobbyist documents, Robinson was hired by the Toy Industry Association of America to fight the BPA ban.

Demeritt said the governor's proposal to lift the ban was not the result of a "quid pro quo" for Robinson's services during the transition.

Rep. Duchesne isn't convinced.

"It sure looks like a favor," he said. "The people who had the input into the governor’s policies so far are the exact same people who are representing the manufacturers."

He added, "We’ve outsourced our regulations to lobbyists that are representing the chemical industry. So how does BPA end up on the list? Because the lobbyists gave (LePage) the list."

Demeritt said repealing the BPA ban came from industry groups such as the Maine Grocers Association and the Maine Beverage Association. So far, neither group has filed lobbying activity documents for LD 1.

It's also unclear how lifting a ban on BPA would meet LePage's stated impetus for regulatory reform: job creation.

Demeritt said lifting an unnecessary ban would create a stable regulatory environment and lure economic activity.

"The message we need to be able to send to companies is that you can come here and build your $10 million plant and hire 300 people," he said. "Whatever it is you use in your manufacturing process, you can continue to use unless there’s sound science (that proves it’s unsafe)."

The administration's quest for "consensus science" could prove elusive.

The administration is leaning on the World Health Organization's BPA opinion. But other reputable organizations, including the federal Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Endocrine Society, have publishe warnings about BPA.

Nine states have moved to ban BPA. So have Canada and Europe.

Demeritt was asked if the potential of a public health risk was enough to consider a change in the administration's BPA policy.

"At some level, consumers have to take some responsibility for what they’re bringing into their own homes," he said. "We can’t promise anybody that we’re going to move them into rubber rooms. ... People need to make decisions for themselves."

smistler@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

RONALD RIML's picture

Really? Where? Bangladesh??

Demeritt said.....

"The message we need to be able to send to companies is that you can come here and build your $10 million plant and hire 300 people,"

- What $10 Ten Million plant in Maine is going to hire 300 people? The Loan Sharks are gone.....

 's picture

rubber

I know a candidate for a rubber room, that is if they aren`t allready full

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Follow the money...

...and you will discover the motivation.

Paul LePage is selling the health of the citizens of Maine so that someone can make money and his party can take their cut in the form of political donations.

I used to think it would take another Cairo to eliminate our government's amoral behavior - perhaps Tripoli would be more apt.

Randall Pond's picture

The Firing of Dr. Dora Anne Mills

I have known the Mills family for many years and have been friend of Dr. Mills' for the past year through Facebook and her doing business with my Florist Shoppe.

Governor LePage has to be out of his Mind to let go Dr. Mills as she as been the most informatively persons I have ever met. She helped Mainer's get through The Swine Flu outbreaks and other outbreaks but, going on TV and in the newspapers to give Maine people the Right and Correct information they needed. Firing her is a Slap in the Face to Mainers as well as her and her many years of Public Service. Wake Up and Die Right Governor LePage and start doing your job correctly or there will be Mainers that start for your Impeachment as Governor.

Respectively Submitted by

Randall Frank Pond.
Owner of Randall's Creations Florist Shoppe, Auburn, Maine.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Terry, lighten up

Lepage bashing doesn't bother me a bit, but please lighten up a little with your Marden's bashing. And your right, Lepage was the GM, not an owner or the CEO and Marden's will continue to do just fine without him. Oh, if you buy anything at Marden's that is defective, torn, expired or simply not what you expected it to be you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. I wish we could do the same with certain elected officials.

 's picture

Great idea Al!!!

Let's you and I meet up in Augusta, load him up and take him back to the Marden's on KMD. I'll drive, how much do you think we can get for him? I would expect at least the same as returning an empty Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy bottle for deposit. Maybe if we take his daughter back too.

AL PELLETIER's picture

great idea, Terry

But Lepage's brain expiration date came to fruition after we bought him and is no longer returnable. And as for his daughter, she couldn't accept less then $41,000 a year to stock shelves so that ain't happening either.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Terry, lighten up

Lepage bashing doesn't bother me a bit, but please lighten up a little with your Marden's bashing. And your right, Lepage was the GM, not an owner or the CEO and Marden's will continue to do just fine without him. Oh, if you buy anything at Marden's that is defective, torn, expired or simply not what you expected it to be you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. I wish we could do the same with certain elected officials.

 's picture

And now I know who's side he's on...

My post from another article today:

Breast cancer is just one danger to which BPAdg has been linked. I have avoided it as best I can for my family but I do know that it is in the can linings of acidic foods, among other things. More needs to be done to eliminate this chemical from our food chain. Big money has been trying to hide the truth and fight the large-scale banning of BPA and our state needs to be on board to help to push this effort along. Hearing Mr. LePage's comment the other day made me wonder just who he thinks he is representing...who's side is he on, anyway?

AL PELLETIER's picture

Doreen

I guess your statement about digesting anything to do with science is not that far fetch.
As I wrote on a previous post, testosterone, not estrogen, would grow little beards on women.

Jason Theriault's picture

Thanks a lot, LePage

"At some level, consumers have to take some responsibility for what they’re bringing into their own homes,"

Umm, how are you supposed to do that without informed consent? I bet you one billion trillion dollars products with BPA will NOT be labeled "Contains BPA"

He is going to lose re-election by 1000%.
"LePage sold out children to chemical companies, and fired anyone who got in his way"

DEAN OUELLETTE's picture

lose re-election by 1000%

My concern is the damage that can be done between now and the next election.

 's picture

Who's our Governer?

I'm wondering now who exactly was elected to the governer's office. Was it an over weight man with a penchant for making up stories, a man who loves to hide his family finances, a GM of a store that sells factory second t shirts, garbage furniture, expired food products and cheapo tools from china, or was it an office full of highly paid lobbyists from Portland?

 's picture

or..

or was it an office full of highly paid lobbyists from PortlandHeritage Crackpot Institute?

 's picture

Charming, isn't it

I will say one thing for Demeritt -- he certainly has no problem with spinning lies into what this administration preceives as truth. It is very obvious that LePage is incapable of digesting anything having to do with science -- after all, he thinks that estrogen causes hair to grow on women's faces. I think this statement was just another reflection of his lack of respect for women and his ignorance about anything having to do with science. This has nothing to do with jobs. None of LePage's environmental changes have anything to do with jobs in Maine.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...