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These 6 States Want to Ban Plastic Bag Bans (Yes, You Read That Right)
Plastic bags—those non-biodegradable menaces that clog up our drawers, waterways and roadways alike—have been public enemy No. 1 in many cities and even entire states which have legislated bans on these single-use pesks. But now, a growing number of pro-plastic states are spearheading bans on bag bans.
Multiple states are considering laws that will block local plastic bag bans. Photo credit: Flickr
As Plastic News reported, it all started last April when Gov. Douglas Ducey (R) signed into law a measure that would stop any local government from putting any restrictions on plastic bags, bottles, foam containers, cans and boxes. State lawmakers who wanted to stop the bans argued that "excessive regulation" on bags and other disposable containers would stifle economic growth. Ducey also signed another bill that would give state legislators the right to ask the attorney general's office to investigate a local policy that is acting contrary to the state law.
A bill that would have prevented cities from banning the use of plastic grocery bags passed in the House but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in July. Rep. Dan Shaul (R), who sponsored the bill, had strongly opposed plastic bag bans, such as the one being considered in the city of Columbia.
“There are things that local municipalities can do to benefit their communities,” Shaul said in September. “There’s a whole list of things that fit in that, but I don’t think prohibiting retailers from using a plastic bag is anything anyone should be restricting. It gives ultimate local control to their consumers.”
While no cities in the state currently enforce plastic bag bans, that detail did not stop the Senate from voting to make it illegal for local governments to impose bag bans without getting state approval first. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) is expected to sign the bill into law any day now. According to Plastic News, Idaho is home to a major plastic film and bag factory.
Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a new state law this week that prohibits city and county officials from taxing or restricting the use of disposable plastic bags by grocery stores and other retailers, the Associated Press reported. The measure, which immediately takes effect, will stop cities such as Bloomington from considering bag restrictions.
The state is another step closer to entirely blocking bag bans after the State Assembly "easily approved" a bill that "would strip communities of the right to ban the bags" earlier this month, MPR reported. Like Idaho, the move to pre-empt plastic bag bans comes despite the absence of such bans in any city across the state.
A bill from Sen. Jani Iwamoto (D) called for a state-wide 10-cent fee on single-use paper and plastic bags but the state legislature wrapped up its 2016 session without voting on the bill, according to Plastic News. However, another version is expected to return next year.
Meanwhile, the two states that have actually passed plastic bags bans are facing hurdles. California banned plastic bags outright in 2015, but opponents of the ban have qualified a referendum on the law, which will be decided this November by voters.
Hawaii also has a ban on plastic bags but certain loopholes have allowed the distribution of "reusable" bags—which are just thicker plastic bags—that could actually be worse for the environment.
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By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
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President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.