WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 3 p.m. ET) — The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition says it will file an appeal with the First District California Court of Appeal in its continuing effort to overturn the single-use plastic bag ban for unincorporated areas of
The recent decision by Marin County Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee to uphold the ban “flies in the face of the California Supreme Court's recent decision” in the Manhattan Beach plastic bag lawsuit, which said that communities were not exempt from a state law that requires an environmental impact report (EIR), said Stephen Joseph, counsel for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition.
That Supreme Court ruling, handed down July 14, upheld the plastic bag ban in Manhattan Beach — which has a population of 35,000 — but also said the court's analysis and its decision on whether a community could enact a ban without an EIR could be different in areas with larger populations. The population in unincorporated areas of
“The analysis [made by the court] would be different for a ban on plastic bags by a larger governmental body [as it] might precipitate a significant increase in paper bag consumption,” said the state Supreme Court in its
Nevertheless, Judge Duryee turned down the request by the Save The Bag Coalition for a restraining order on the
“The court finds the county acted reasonably in enacting the ordinance and was entitled to rely” on a ‘categorical exemption' from CEQA” in enacting its ban because the ordinance protects the environment, Duryee wrote in her decision, handed down Sept. 14.
“Eliminating single-use plastic bags is a valiant and important move to protect the environment and enhance natural resources,” wrote the judge. “It does not do away with the problem of single-use paper bag. ... But it is an urgent and correct first step. The court finds the county acted appropriately in eliminating single-use plastic bags.”
“We are thrilled that the judge agreed with the county that its bag ordinance is categorically exempt from CEQA review,” said Carol Misseldine, head of
But even with the Marin County Superior Court ruling that that Marin County did not needed to conduct an EIR for its plastic bag ban, it is likely that many California communities will proceed to conduct an environment review ahead of time to assess the impact from a plastic bag ban, said Mark Murray, executive director of the Sacramento-based Californians Against Waste.
“Whether they need to or not, virtually all of the ‘large jurisdictions' in
“Each case turns on its own evidence,” said
He also pointed out that as far as he can ascertain “every jurisdiction — large and small” that is considering a plastic bag ban “is including [in the proposal] some measure to discourage single use paper bags" — either deposits or a charge or fee of 5-10 cents for each paper bag handed out.
“Within the next 12-18 months—regardless of any further court action on CEQA, we believe that single-use plastic grocery bags will be prohibited in 50-60 percent of
“By ruling that
“Fortunately, the Court of Appeal will decide the issue de novo [that is, from the beginning] based on the Supreme Court's decision and without regard to the ruling of the Marin court,” Joseph said.
He also cautioned legislators in cities and counties in
“If necessary, we will litigate against cities and counties to enforce the ruling of the Supreme Court,” Joseph said.
"An appeal of the Marin plastic bag ban, whether successful or not, will not slow the end of single use plastic grocery bags in California."