Good day and welcome to DKos Asheville. This is the weekly Open Thread for Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
This space appears each weekend to give readers a variety of links to local and regional news of interest, and opens the floor for comment and discussion. Wishing all a good day from beautiful Western North Carolina.
“Daily Kos fights for a progressive America by empowering its community and allies with information and tools to directly impact the political process.”
Plastic bags are today’s menu.
The weather looks fine, I hope you enjoy your weekend.
WLOS, Kimberly King, 9/22/2023
Environmental groups suffered a major setback in their fight for bans on plastic bags when lawmakers included in the newly passed state budget wording that prevents cities and counties from prohibiting their use.
State leaders have the power to keep local governments from passing such ordinances, and that's what they did with this budget language.
Locally, Woodfin and Black Mountain leaders voted to support a ban in Buncombe County, but the state budget now supersedes that.
Advocates said they are not giving up.
"There have been states that disallowed local governments from pushing bag bans through. And we’ve seen those laws overturned," MountainTrue policy manager Anna Alsobrook said. "And so several of those states have now allowed bag bans to be put into the books. In a time of such drastic climate crisis, we have no time to waste."
BLACK MOUNTAIN RALLIES BEHIND POTENTIAL PLASTIC BAG BAN IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY
Sen. Julie Mayfield said the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association was successful in getting language in the budget to protect grocers from facing such a bag ban. She said discussions will continue but agreed this was a significant loss for local efforts to ban plastic bags.
WOODFIN TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES RESOLUTION TO CURB SINGLE-USE PLASTICS, AWAITS BUNCOMBE COUNTY'S LEAD
Mountain Express, Greg Parlier, 9/20/2023
Following a rally of about 50 in Pack Square on Sept. 19, more than a dozen members of the Plastic-Free WNC coalition urged the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to fight for its right to ban single-use plastic bags with a countywide ordinance.
The group had to change its message abruptly as state legislators added language to the state budget that would bar counties from regulating plastic bags.
“It’s a cynical and shameful ploy to deny you the ability to serve your constituents. It’s anti-democratic, and I look forward to working together with you to reject this encroachment on our rights to protect our health and the health of our mountains, rivers and streams,” Karim Olaechea, deputy director of strategy and communications for MountainTrue. told commissioners during public comment.
A draft of the state budget now includes the following: “No county may adopt an ordinance, resolution, regulation or rule to restrict, tax, charge a fee, prohibit or otherwise regulate the use, disposition or sale of an auxiliary container.” Auxiliary containers are defined as “a bag, cup, package, container, bottle, device or other packaging.”
Center for Biological Diversity, with permission
Plastic bags start out as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfills and the ocean. Birds often mistake shredded plastic bags for food, filling their stomachs with toxic debris. For hungry sea turtles, it's nearly impossible to distinguish between jellyfish and floating plastic shopping bags. Fish eat thousands of tons of plastic a year, transferring it up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. Microplastics are also consumed by people through food and in the air. It’s estimated that globally, people consume the equivalent of a credit card of plastic every week,1 and it’s expected that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.2
The fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% over the next decade. These oil giants are rapidly building petrochemical plants across the United States to turn fracked gas into plastic. This means more plastic in our oceans, more greenhouse gas emissions and more toxic air pollution, which exacerbates the climate crisis that often disproportionately affects communities of color.
10 Facts About Single-Use Plastic Bags
- Americans use 5 trillion plastic bags a year.3
- Americans use an average of 365 plastic bags per person per year. People in Denmark use an average of four plastic bags per year.4
- It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.5
- In 2015 about 730,000 tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were generated (including PS, PP, HDPE, PVC & LDPE) in the United States, but more than 87% of those items are never recycled, winding up in landfills and the ocean.6
- About 34% of dead leatherback sea turtles have ingested plastics.7
- The plastic typically used in bottles, bags and food containers contains chemical additives such as endocrine disruptors, which are associated with negative health effects including cancers, birth defects and immune system suppression in humans and wildlife.8
- It takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don't break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.9
- Chemical leachates from plastic bags impair the growth of the world’s most important microorganisms, Prochlorococcus, a marine bacterium that provides one tenth of the world’s oxygen.10
- There were 1.9 million grocery bags and other plastic bags collected in the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup.11
- In 2014 California became the first state to ban plastic bags. As of March 2018, 311 local bag ordinances have been adopted in 24 states, including Hawaii.12 As of July 2018, 127 countries have adopted some form of legislation to regulate plastic bags.13
Thanks for stopping by, be safe out there!