It's Official: Plastic Bags Banned in California
California Gov. Jerry Brown added his signature this morning and made it official: single-use plastic bags are being banned from many of the state's retail establishments. SB 270, passed by the legislature and sent to Gov. Brown's desk for final approval in late August, phases out the bags, starting with large grocery stores and pharmacies in July 2015, and in convenience and liquor stores one year later. California is the first state to ban the bags, although many cities across the country have done so. This came despite heavy lobbying and spending from "Big Plastic," led by out-of-state bag manufacturers.
“This bill is a step in the right direction—it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
The bill was authored by state senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley. Today he said, "I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law. A throw-away society is not sustainable. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs."
The environmental and citizen groups who spent a decade working toward this day were exultant.
“From the thousands of sea turtles that are now safer from plastic bags to the thousands of volunteers who remove these bags from our beaches and rivers, this bill means a cleaner ocean for everyone,” said Nathan Weaver of Environment California, one of the groups behind the effort. “I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 and phasing out single-use plastic bags. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”
“California policy makers have made a clear statement in enacting the bag ban: producers are responsible for the end of life impacts of their products,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, the bill’s sponsor. “If a product is too costly to society and the environment, California is prepared to move to eliminate it.”
127 California cities, towns and counties have already banned the bags, including major cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach and San Jose, covering more than a third of the state's population. San Francisco was the first city in the country to regulate them, starting in 2007.
"For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags is already a reality,” said Murray. “Bag bans reduce plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives. Forty years ago there were no plastic grocery bags; four years from now, we’ll forget there ever were."
Heal the Bay, another group involved in ban campaign, said that this is just the beginning of their efforts to rid the state of trash pollution.
"Plastic bags serve as a 'gateway' issue for us, getting people to think more sustainably in other areas of their life, whether it's skipping plastic water bottles or refusing drinking straws," said the group. "Following this victory, Heal the Bay will pivot to a comprehensive statewide solution for trash control—a strong statewide trash policy that would compel all municipalities to meet strict numeric reductions in the amount of trash they send to our local rivers and ocean waterways."
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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