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Environmental Bills Introduced In Sacramento Unlikely To Pass

Environmental Groups Not Upbeat About Passage

There are several environmental bills scheduled for hearings in California state legislative committees this week, but environmental advocates said the chances for passage appear slim this session.

Steve Aceti with the California Coastal Coalition says key democratic legislators he's talked to say this session may be a "no-go year for environmental bills."

Aceti says there are more moderate democrats in the state Assembly and Senate, and most will not support any legislation perceived to cost jobs or hurt the economy.

One bill being heard Tuesday in committee is a bill to ban plastic single-use carryout bags.

The legislation (AB 1998) would regulate paper carryout bags at supermarkets, retail pharmacies and convenience stores throughout the state.

Aceti said less than 5 percent of single-use plastic bags are currently recycled.

"Most single-use plastic bags are sent to landfills or worse yet, become litter, clogging stormwater systems and polluting our beaches, waterways and the ocean," said Aceti.

He said Californians use an estimated 19 billion single-use plastic bags every year.

"The state spends an estimated $25 million annually to clean up and landfill plastic bags, which does not include the more than $300 million that local governments continually spend to clean littered streets and waterways," said Aceti.

Environment California is frustrated trying to work with state legislators to pass environmental bills. Recently, the group started working with cities and counties to enact plastic bag bans.

San Francisco, Malibu and other cities have banned plastic bags and at least 20 more cities in California are considering bans.

But Aceti said, while that's a good start, a comprehensive statewide plastic bag recycling program, if not a complete ban, is what's needed.

"Rather than taking a piece-meal, city-by-city approach, AB 1998 will create a uniform policy for addressing all types of single-use bags, encouraging consumers to use reusable bags, which, without the funds to develop a statewide recycling program, is the most sustainable alternative," said Aceti.

Details of AB 1998:

The bill would, starting January 1, 2012, ban all single-use bags (includes plastic and paper bags). Does not apply to bags that are used to carry bulk items, produce or raw meat to the checkout.

Applies to all supermarkets, large retail with pharmacies and convenience stores. Stores would be required to make reusable bags available for purchase instead of using single-use carryout bags.