NJ governor vetoes plastic bag fee

NJ governor vetoes plastic bag fee

New Jersey’s Democratic governor on Monday vetoed a bill that would have put a five-cent fee on purchases of plastic grocery bags.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said in his veto statement that he supported the goal of reducing plastic pollution that is blamed on single-use bags from grocery stores, restaurants and elsewhere, but he could not support the bill as written.

He criticized, among other aspects, the fact that only certain businesses would be targeted.

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“Instituting a five-cent fee on single-use bags that only applies to certain retailers does not go far enough to address the problems created by overreliance on plastic bags and other single-use carryout bags,” he said in the statement to lawmakers.

“In order to make a real difference, a single-use bag program must be devised and applied more broadly and consistently in a manner that would avoid loopholes that undermine the ultimate purpose of the program.”

Numerous localities, including some in New Jersey, have either banned businesses from providing single-use plastic bags or put fees on them. But the bill would have resulted in the first statewide fee.

Murphy’s criticisms echo those from some environmentalists, who took issue not just with the loopholes in the legislation but also with the fact that the money would go to the state’s general funds and would not be set aside for environmental programs, NorthJersey.com reported.