Gov. Cuomo Buries Plastic Bag Fee, Calling It 'Deeply Flawed'
Feb 17 2017 by Kathy Alvarado
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law Tuesday that nullifies a controversial bag tax in New York City that was set to go into effect today.
State lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly overruled the city, saying the fee would be a burden on the poor and middle classes.
New York State has proudly led this nation's environmental movement from its inception, fostering the early conservationist principles of Theodore Roosevelt, and birthing modern environmentalism at Storm King.
The New York League of Conservation Voters said concerns about the law were fair, but that the moratorium wrongfully delays any action on plastic bags.
The governor called the City Council's law "an earnest attempt at a real solution" to climate change and pollution, added that it is "deeply flawed" because merchants would have kept the nickel fee, some stores would have been exempt and it does not provide a statewide solution.
But in an approval message, he acknowledged NY and the nation are "struggling with the environmental impact of plastic and paper bag waste". "If the council needed the political support of the merchants to pass the bill, a $100 million price was too high a cost to pay", he stated.
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Anyway, despite the years the City Council has already spent hashing out the particulars, Cuomo has some questions - questions so hyper-stretched and theoretical that there's no way anyone, much less an as-yet unassembled Task Force - will ever be able to address them in our lifetimes.
"I am so pleased to see that Governor Cuomo agrees with many of my constituents, who believe that there are far better ways to address the plastic bag issue than charging customers five cents to the benefit of the grocery stores", Addabbo said. According to Paul Leonard, Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who co-sponsored the original bill proposing the fee, the city does not have the power to instate a tax that would be returned to the public coffers.
"It is completely false that it was done for political purposes". "To use that as a justification to kill the bill is the height of chutzpah".
"Despite this loss, we are proud of the coalition we have built, which took the issue of plastic solid waste.and raised it to the very highest levels of New York State government", they concluded. They never biodegrade, so they pollute our trees, oceans, and landfills forever. "And they are hard to dislodge from the State Legislature, too". "Tax payers pay a lot of money for those bags to end up in landfills". The bill's backers had estimated it would cut bag usage by 60 percent and save $12.5 million in sanitation fees each year. "Overwhelming evidence shows that they will switch".
"The Staten Island Chamber is happy to hear that Gov. Cuomo has pressed the pause button on the city's regressive and overreaching plastic bag law", said Linda Baran, president & CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. "The League looks forward to participating in the process and holding our state government accountable for enacting the best possible policy solution".
"With dysfunction in Washington, now more than ever, we need to empower our local governments to adopt common sense solutions, not block them." said Greg Young, City of Gloversville supervisor and co-coordinator of Elected Officials To Protect New York.