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article imageCalifornia legislature OK's first statewide plastic bag ban Special

By Nathan Salant     Sep 2, 2014 in Environment
Sacramento - California is poised to become the first state to ban the use of plastic grocery bags under a bill approved by the legislature in August.
Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill, which would prohibit grocery stores from using plastic bags to pack purchases and provide funding to help manufacturers retool production to make reusable bags.
Californians use more than 10 billion plastic bags per year, according to the Reuters news service.
Most of the bags end up discarded in the environment, where they present a hazard to animals and fish, or in landfills, where they are slow to break down.
"Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes," said state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, who sponsored the bill now on the governor's desk, SB 270.
Brown is expected to sign the bill this week.
Several cities and counties in California and other states have banned single-use plastic bags, including Maui County in Hawaii, Reuters said.
But statewide bans have failed in many states, including California last year, in the face of strong industry opposition.
The bill passed the California Senate on Aug. 29 by a 22-15 vote after being approved the day before, 45-31, by the state Assembly.
But the Assembly vote was uncertain until shortly before the vote, when the provision authorizing reimbursement for retooling was added, Reuters said.
The addition blunted opposition from California bag manufacturers, but apparently led to a campaign by out-of-state bag makers to try to defeat the bill, Reuters said.
Padilla, a candidate for California Secretary of State, was targeted by some of the advertising, Reuters said.
Sarah Rose of the California League of Conservation Voters, which campaigned for the bill, called its passage "incredible" and credited thousands of voters who emailed and telephoned legislators urging their support.
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