Los Angeles, California: California's Senate has voted down a measure that would have banned plastic bags at grocery stores. The new ban was rejected by a 21 to 14 vote late Tuesday. The ban would have included grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores.
The California Assembly passed the legislation in June. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had said he would have signed the measure into law, the Los Angeles Times reported. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club encouraged Californians to contact their state senators to push for the measure.
The group Heal the Bay produced what it calls a "mockumentary," narrated by actor Jeremy Irons, called "The Majestic Plastic Bag" that charts the life of a plastic bag. The video is on YouTube. The measure had its opponents, too. The American Chemistry Council criticized California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, who proposed the bill.
"Assemblywoman Brownley's inflammatory comments are obviously intended to distract public attention from the substance and dire consequences of Assembly Bill 1998," the group said. "Her proposed legislation to ban plastic grocery bags in California ... is bad for the economy and bad for the environment: It will eliminate several hundred California manufacturing jobs and dismantle existing plastic bag recycling programs."
According to its website, the chemistry council represents companies that "make the products that make modern life possible, while working to protect the environment, public health, and the security of our nation." In this case, that includes plastic bags.
Brownley said she was disappointed with the vote. "This is a sad day for California," Brownley said. "Communities across the state were waiting for the state to adopt a uniform, statewide ban on single-use bags before they adopt their own ordinances. The state failed them."
Brownley has been fighting to reduce plastic bag waste for three years, calling single-use bags "an unnecessary scourge that blows like urban tumbleweeds into every corner of the earth." Her bill gained support from the California Grocers Association, which decided to back the bill after Brownley agreed to subject all stores that sell groceries to the ban.