Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

California Marine Plastic Pollution Policy Tangled Up in Committee

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Leila Monroe

Last Friday, members of the California Assembly Appropriations Committee stopped Assembly Bill 521—a groundbreaking proposal to create a statewide marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program—from moving forward in the legislature. This is a missed opportunity to better protect our oceans, marine life, economy and communities from costly and harmful marine plastic pollution, but we are undeterred in our support for the solutions presented in this bill. We will continue to work to advance this program, and we are grateful for the strong leadership of authors Assembly Member Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego). 

According to an Associated Press story carried by the Washington Post and other outlets, Assembly Member Stone described the value of the marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program:

Cities and counties spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year cleaning up plastic trash that is on its way into the ocean. Isn’t an increased cost tied to making a new product that is causing a problem better than a taxpayer paying for it after it becomes a problem?

This program would have encouraged industry to reduce the amount of plastic it produces (especially single-use packaging) and share the costs of cleaning up what remains. By doing so, it would protect California’s ocean, beaches and communities from plastic pollution and reduce costly waste management, litter cleanup and recycling. In its 2008 report, CalRecycle estimated that Californians dump 3.8 million tons of plastic into state landfills every year—plastic that could be recycled or avoided all together.

California’s ocean and coastal tourism and leisure industries generated $92 million in GDP for the state in 2010 and supported 1.9 million jobs. By reducing plastic pollution, birds, turtles, whales and other sea creatures are also better protected from the waste that often kills or harms marine life when they swallow or become tangled in plastics found in our oceans that may kill them. This economic activity is dependent on a healthy and thriving ocean and marine life in order to succeed. 

The Appropriations Committee is a fiscal committee with the responsibility of making choices that are beneficial to the health of our state’s economy. The economic value of the bill was clear: A.B. 521 presents the opportunity to save coastal communities from the $420 million spent annually to clean up plastic pollution from streets, parks, rivers and beaches, according to recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. This savings doesn’t take into account additional value that will be generated by having producers of plastic products assist with improving and expanding recycling as well.

We are very sorry that the Appropriations Committee did not make the right choice for our oceans, our economy and our communities by moving the marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program forward this year.

But in the long run, the marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program is too important to fail. We’ll continue strengthening the program and build our coalition of supporters so we can move it forward in the legislature next year.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

——–

SIGN THIS PETITION TODAY:

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Heavy industry on the lower Mississippi helps to create dead zones. AJ Wallace on Unsplash.

Cutting out coal-burning and other sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from heavy industry, electricity production and traffic will reduce the size of the world's dead zones along coasts where all fish life is vanishing because of a lack of oxygen.

Read More Show Less

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has restricted the ability to gather in peaceful assembly, a Canadian company has moved forward with construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.

Methane levels in the atmosphere experienced a dramatic rise in 2019, preliminary data released Sunday shows.

Read More Show Less
A retired West Virginia miner suffering from black lung visits a doctor for tests. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

In some states like West Virginia, coal mines have been classified as essential services and are staying open during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the close quarters miners work in and the known risks to respiratory health put miners in harm's way during the spread of the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Solar panel installations and a wind turbine at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province on April 23, 2019. MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP via Getty Images

Renewable energy made up almost three quarters of all new energy capacity added in 2019, data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows.

Read More Show Less