February 24 – Coastkeeper Says Referendum Against Statewide Plastic Bag Ban Should Incentivize Mayor Faulconer and Council to Move on Local Law

Clean water advocates say it’s less costly for taxpayers to address the plastic bag pollution at its source

San Diego — February 24, 2015 — San Diego Coastkeeper, which protects fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters, says San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council should respond with immediate local action in light of today’s news of the certification of a referendum against a statewide plastic bag ban. If passed, the City of San Diego’s local bag ban would cut down on plastic waste that finds its way into the region’s waters, and the City would become the County’s third to ban plastic bags following action by Solana Beach in 2012 and Encinitas in 2014.

In addition to the human health and environmental benefits associated with preventing plastic pollution in San Diego’s waters, says Coastkeeper, it will save taxpayers money. The watchdog organization expects a statewide trash policy to take effect in San Diego within the year. Once passed by the California State Water Resources Control Board (expected in April), this policy will mandate municipalities to prevent trash from entering our waters.

“We know it will cost San Diegans even more money to clean up the plastic bags once they’re in the environment. Mayor Faulconer and City Council should use this opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the local plastic ban bag now so that we can address the source of the plastic pollution, saving money when the state requires us to remove it from the environment,” said Matt O’Malley, Waterkeeper for San Diego Coastkeeper.

Coastkeeper urges Mayor Faulconer and Council to move on the local law after out-of-state chemical industry lobbyists announced today that they collected enough signatures to force a ballot measure vote on California’s law banning plastic shopping bags. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill in September 2014, making California the first U.S. state to officially prohibit stores from handing them out for free.

“It’s not surprising that after spending more than $3.2 million, 98 percent of which is from out of state, the plastic bag industry has bought its way onto the California ballot to protect its profits,” said Mark Murray of Californians vs. Big Plastic, the coalition of local officials and environmental, labor, and business groups supporting the state’s plastic bag ban. “Every poll shows that Californians strongly support the law…. We are confident that Californians will protect a law that is already in place in 138 communities and that will save marine wildlife, reduce litter and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

According to data from San Diego County beach cleanups in 2014, plastics account for 46 percent of debris collected. Additionally, a new study this month from the journal Science, quantifies, for the first time, the amount of plastic going into the ocean from land — estimated between 5 and 14 million tons globally per year.

Sadly, says O’Malley, this statewide effort funded by out-of-state special interest groups echoes disparaging local trends in which industry lobbyists have pumped millions of dollars into campaigns to railroad the political process.

For more information, visit www.CAvsBigPlastic.com.

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San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.