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Los Angeles Enacts Plastic Bag Ban, Strengthens Statewide Movement
[Editor's note: UPDATE—On June 26, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed LA's historic ban on single-use plastic bags into law.]
The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-1 yesterday to finalize a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags. L.A. had begun drafting an ordinance last year, and has since completed an exhaustive study demonstrating the benefits of a citywide ban. Once the L.A. ordinance is signed into law by Mayor Villaraigosa, nearly one in three Californians will live somewhere with a plastic bag ban. Sen. Padilla (D-CA) championed a similar measure in the California Senate.
“This important step forward for Los Angeles shows once again that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health," said Nathan Weaver with Environment California.
“Banning plastic bags is the right choice to protect our rivers, beaches and the Pacific Ocean. With one in three Californians living somewhere with a plastic bag ban, it's only a matter of time until California bans plastic bags statewide. I applaud the Los Angeles City Council and Sen. Padilla for their leadership on this issue."
Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on California's beaches according to the Los Angeles Times. They are a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, based on a study of over 370 autopsies. Plastic bags make up as much as 25 percent, by weight, of all garbage flowing out to sea on the Los Angeles River according to a 2008 L.A. County report.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years," commented Weaver.
Plastic bag bans have enjoyed tremendous success across California. More than 75 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags, including Pasadena, Glendale, Culver City, Long Beach, Calabasas and unincorporated Los Angeles County. Seven million Californians, joined by 3.8 million people in L.A., now live in a community that has approved a plastic bag ban.
Councilmembers Reyes, Krekorian, Zine, LaBonge, Koretz, Alarcón, Wesson, Rosendahl, Englander Huizar and Buscaino voted for the ban.
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By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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