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Court Upholds Plastic Bag Ban
Vol. 834 
July 19, 2011

Reversing two prior decisions, the California Supreme Court has ruled that Manhattan Beach was not required to conduct an environmental review when it passed an ordinance banning plastic bags in 2008. The unanimous decision could stand to be a significant loss for the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which has fought against bans, while strengthening the cause of environmentalists. "We all want less plastic trash in San Francisco Bay and our oceans and now the court has given Bay Area cities a green light to act swiftly to end the era of the plastic bag in our region," said David Lewis, executive director of environmental group Save the Bay.

Leaders in several areas of California were watching the court's decision closely, including those in Marin County and San Carlos. The Save the Plastic Coalition has a lawsuit pending against Marin County, which passed a plastic bag ban in January. San Carlos has been considering a similar ban, but efforts have been slowed after it was learned an environmental study would cost the city $600,000. The study, which would measure the effect paper bags have on the environment, now may not have to be conducted with the court's ruling. "We don't have to worry about the cost factor anymore," said San Carlos' Mayor Andy Klein. "We can debate on the merits of the ordinance itself. It's a much more viable option."

In California, plastic bag bans have been approved in San Francisco, Malibu, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Marin County, San Jose and Calabasas, in addition to Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles County. While the court's ruling may not be the sweeping mandate environmentalists have sought, there is now one fewer obstacle in banning plastic bag bans. "This is going to give local agencies a lot more latitude to approve these sorts of bans," said Christian Marsh, the lawyer for Manhattan Beach

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