Cuomo signs plastic bag ban on Earth Day

Cuomo signs plastic bag ban on Earth Day
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed legislation on Earth Day Monday banning single-use plastic bags in New York, making the Empire State the third in the nation to pass such a law. 

“Just stop. Stop using the bags,” Cuomo said at a signing ceremony. “It's a plastic bag. Looks harmless enough. You can roll it up, put it into a little ball, almost make it disappear. But it is a major, major threat to the environment and it's long been getting worse.”

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Cuomo recognized that the law, which will go into effect in March, may inconvenience New Yorkers, but claimed the impact on the environment would more than make up for any of the legislation’s downsides.

“Now that is a change and change is hard. Right?” Cuomo said. “That means I am going to have to remember to bring reusable bags when I go to the store. Yes, it does. The way you remember to put on a shirt, put on pants, bring the list, bring the keys, and bring the cellphones - God forbid you forget that. Yes, you will have to remember to bring the reusable bag to the store. In the scope of things, it is a trivial and insignificant act when you consider the damage.” 

Besides banning single-use plastic bags, the law will also impose a five-cent fee on paper bags, three cents of which will go to the Environmental Protection Fund and two cents of which will help fund the distribution of reusable bags.

The New York law follows similar legislation passed in California and in all of Hawaii’s counties.

Cuomo cast the legislation as necessary in light of what he said was inadequate action from the Trump administration to combat climate change.

“But we have a people in denial, we have a government that is in denial, we have a government that is going back the other way. It's a convenient denial. They don't want to accept that we have to make change,” Cuomo said. “We have a federal government that is still promoting fossil fuels. We have a federal government that proposed offshore drilling off the shore of New York.”