Facing a closely divided Congress, a coalition of conservation groups and one U.S. Senator are urging President-elect Joe Biden and his administration to adopt what would be a new approach for Washington — targeted executive actions to get tougher on the plastics industry.
The coalition, which includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation and 16 other founding partners, released an eight-point plan Dec. 8 asking the incoming Biden administration to do things like suspend permits for new plastics facilities, enact tougher emissions laws and use the federal government’s purchasing power to stop buying single-use plastics.
The environmental groups want to link that tougher approach on plastics into plans by Biden and his administration to address climate change and environmental justice.
At a news conference to release the plan, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., argued that executive actions like those could have a significant impact.
"It is tough to get any bill through Congress, and executive action can make a huge difference," said Merkley. "[This plan] is really comprehensive and could have a huge, huge impact."
The eight points include elements previously pushed by some of coalition members, like two CBD petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2019 for tougher rules governing air and water emissions from plastics factories.
It also includes organizations that have fought resin plant expansion in court, like a large Formosa complex in Louisiana, and the NGO that won a $50 million federal court lawsuit against Formosa in 2019 over pellet pollution in Texas waters.
Organizers framed the effort as protecting communities near plastics plants and said the buildout of plastics resin facilities is accelerating climate change.
"Implementing this historic plan would protect vulnerable frontline communities and marine life while addressing a key driver of climate change," said Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney for CBD. "It's time to rein in the fossil fuel industry's insidious plans to keep fracking for plastic and polluting poor communities here and around the world."