As expected, the Seattle City Council agreed to let voters decide on the fate of a proposed plastic bag tax. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes, in a story that's drawing a lot of comments, that the issue could turn into quite a battle. Reporter Chris Grygiel sets up the conflict as a war between the greens -- environmentalists -- and some opponents with "serious green" -- the plastics industry.
Those supporting the bag fee are counting on Seattle's green-friendly electorate. If recent history is any guide, opponents will be counting on vastly superior monetary resources. The Coalition to Stop The Seattle Bag Tax -- a group funded largely by the American Chemistry Council -- had raised nearly $250,000 by the end of February, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Most of that money -- $239,000 -- had already been spent. The group paid to gather signatures to put the bag fee question before voters. The anti-bag-tax group has $8,720 left in the bank, but could presumably raise a lot more.Overall, this is a pretty fair story. It allows leaders on both sides of the debate to make their case. Keith Christman, of the American Chemistry Council, notes that despite environmentalist claims that they speak for the majority, the city's own polling shows that three out of five Seattle residents are against a fee on disposable bags. "We think Seattle residents will look at this and say we don't need a punitive tax to do the right thing for the environment," Christman told the P-I. It's interesting to see how the media describes the plastics industry. Keep this in mind: despite how it is often portrayed, D.C. insiders don't really consider the plastics industry a major player in political lobbying.