Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Claims of Delusion

by Phil Sego, Massachusetts Sierra Club

Like many of the proponents who are working on the bottle bill, I've been making presentations before various groups and organizations. Some of us, including myself, have been meeting the opposition toe-to-toe in formal televised debates.

I've never considered myself a debater. I am passionate about the bottle bill, and angered by the misstatements and fabrications by our opponents. I try to focus on the issues, but some times, the constant stream of disinformation makes me wonder, "Do these people actually think anyone believes them?" Sadly, many people do.

These are just a few of the more common fabrications by our opponents:

"Prices will go up $20 million (or sometimes 40, 60, and 140 million)"

The number seems to be going up every day. In just one hour, while I was participating in a debate yesterday, the number jumped from 60 to 68. But a month ago, it was 140.

The FACT is that every time that any state tries to update or pass a bottle bill, the Big Beverage companies threaten a price increase -- and they've been doing this for over 30 years, In fact, they said the same thing here in 1982 when we enacted our bottle bill. A year later, the VP of Coca-Cola Donald Dowd admitted that it was a lie.

The TRUTH is that when Maine, Connecticut, California, Oregon, and New York updated their bottle bills, the bottlers also threatened massive increases. None of these threats ever materialized.

To get to the truth, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) studied beverage costs in New England, They found that costs were actually higher in NH – which has no Bottle bill.  Maine, which has the most comprehensive bottle bill, had the lowest costs. So much for the scare tactics and threats from Big Beverage.

The bottlers have been caught repeatedly in this game of "scare the consumer." They've been caught falsifying data repeatedly by investigative reporters. The 20-40-100 million threat is just another example of making claims to scare and mislead voters. The fact is that they've lost all credibility.

Phil Sego is an Environmental Advocate at the Massachusetts Sierra Club

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