New York governor pushes to ban plastic bags

New York governor pushes to ban plastic bags
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is asking state lawmakers to ban single-use plastic bags at stores and restaurants.

Cuomo introduced legislation to that effect Monday, saying it would cut down on plastic pollution in waterways, on streets and elsewhere.

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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“As the old proverb goes: ‘We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,’ and with this action, we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”

Cuomo’s bill comes as he runs for reelection amid criticism from some environmentalists that he is not doing enough to protect the state’s environment.

Cuomo faces a primary challenge from activist and actress Cynthia Nixon. Nixon rolled out a climate platform on Friday with a goal of moving the state to 100 percent renewable energy, pledged to reject all fossil fuel infrastructure and implement laws to better hold companies accountable for their contributions to climate change.

Green activists are protesting in Albany Monday to push Cuomo to stop approving any fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas power plants, and to expand renewable energy in the state.

The plastics industry criticized Cuomo’s proposal, saying it would be counterintuitive and costly.

“Unfortunately, this misguided proposal would result in a massive, multi-million-dollar hidden tax on hardworking New York families,” Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said in a statement. The alliance is a project of the Plastics Industry Association.

“Bans tried elsewhere have made it harder for families to pay for groceries while also incentivizing shoppers to use bags that are worse for the environment than 100 percent recyclable, highly reused plastic retail bags,” he said.

A handful of towns and cities in New York currently ban plastic bags, and California is the only other entire state to have such a policy. Puerto Rico and American Samoa also have bans, and Washington, D.C., has a tax on the bags.

Numerous other municipalities and counties around the country have either bans or fees on disposable plastic bags.

Updated at 4:45 p.m.