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County Supes Plan to Defend Plastic Bag Ban in Face of Lawsuit

Supervisor Charles McGlashan calls the lawsuit an example of 'self-serving corporate greed.'

The Marin County Board of Supervisors plan to defend its case supporting the plastic bag ban in the face of a lawsuit filed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition on Feb. 24.

Amid enthusiastic cheers from the public, the supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance on Jan. 25.  On top of banning plastic bags in unincorporated Marin, the ordinance imposes a 5-cent fee per paper bag for anyone who forgets their own reusable bags at grocery stores.

The lawsuit argues the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by passing the ban without first completing an environmental impact report. 

“We’re suing based on the fact that the plastic bag ban issue requires science, namely environmental science, before a rational, intelligent decision can be made,” Stephen Joseph, the coalition’s counsel, told Patch the day the suit was filed.

The coalition claims an environmental impact report would have proved a 5-cent fee wouldn’t be enough to dissuade shoppers from using paper bags, and the life cycle of paper bags results in 3.3 times the greenhouse gas emissions than plastic bags.

 Since the county did not complete an EIR, the ordinance should be deemed invalid, the coalition argues.

“This is just self-serving corporate greed,” said Supervisor Charles McGlashan, who represents Mill Valley, Belvedere, Sausalito and Tiburon.

McGlashan the coalition’s claims that an EIR would invalidate the ordinance were unfounded and studies have shown similar bans encourage the use of reusable bags.

If the county must go through with an EIR because of the lawsuit, McGlashan said that the board would approve the ordinance again after the EIR was completed.

“All this lawsuit is doing is running up the bill for the tax payer,” he said.

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Editor's note: This story has been revised.

Larry Danos March 03, 2011 at 09:34 PM
That requirement to do an EIR is taking CEQA to the extreme when you think of all the plastic bags escaping into the environment. The EIR forces a comparison with paper bags but that's not the question here. Are plastic bags bad for the environment? That's the question. We know the answer and an EIR is a waste of time, money, and energy.

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