Court (Again) Shuts Down Plastic Bag Industry Group and Upholds City’s Plastic Bag Ban

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Court (Again) Shuts Down Plastic Bag Industry Group and Upholds City’s Plastic Bag BanIn Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco, the Court of Appeal rejected the latest in a series of unsuccessful challenges by the plastic bag industry to local bans on single-use plastic bags.

In 2012, San Francisco enacted an ordinance banning the use of non-compostable plastic check-out and carry-out bags at all retail and food establishments within the city. The same industry group that unsuccessfully challenged similar ordinances in Manhattan Beach and Marin County brought a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that San Francisco failed to complete the necessary environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before adopting the ordinance.

Before enacting the ban, the city determined the ordinance was exempt from CEQA review under the Class 7 and Class 8 categorical exemptions, which exempt regulatory actions that protect natural resources and the environment from further environmental review. The court rejected each of the Coalition’s arguments, noting that they were similar, if not identical, to unsuccessful arguments made in prior challenges to similar bans. Holding that cities and counties are capable of taking regulatory action (and thus use the Class 7 and Class 8 exemptions), and that San Francisco’s large tourist base is not an unusual circumstance warranting further CEQA review, the court decided for  San Francisco.

There are now three separate cases upholding local plastic bag bans, each on substantially similar grounds, and none of which required an environmental impact report. Will this most recent installment finally put an end to the Coalition’s efforts to stop plastic bag bans? Or as more and more agencies adopt similar bans, will the sum of these actions on a statewide basis eventually tip the scales in the Coalition’s favor due to the fact that the manufacture of paper bags consumes more resources than the manufacture of plastic ones? Only time will tell, but for now, bag bans are likely to remain a popular local issue, and when visiting San Francisco, be sure to pack your reusable grocery bags!

Here is a related article from the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Heal the Bay.

- See more at: http://www.bbknowledge.com/environmental-law-natural-resources/court-again-shuts-down-plastic-bag-industry-group-and-upholds-citys-plastic-bag-ban/#sthash.WPUC369w.dpuf

Court (Again) Shuts Down Plastic Bag Industry Group and Upholds City’s Plastic Bag BanIn Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City and County of San Francisco, the Court of Appeal rejected the latest in a series of unsuccessful challenges by the plastic bag industry to local bans on single-use plastic bags.

In 2012, San Francisco enacted an ordinance banning the use of non-compostable plastic check-out and carry-out bags at all retail and food establishments within the city. The same industry group that unsuccessfully challenged similar ordinances in Manhattan Beach and Marin County brought a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that San Francisco failed to complete the necessary environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before adopting the ordinance.

Before enacting the ban, the city determined the ordinance was exempt from CEQA review under the Class 7 and Class 8 categorical exemptions, which exempt regulatory actions that protect natural resources and the environment from further environmental review. The court rejected each of the Coalition’s arguments, noting that they were similar, if not identical, to unsuccessful arguments made in prior challenges to similar bans. Holding that cities and counties are capable of taking regulatory action (and thus use the Class 7 and Class 8 exemptions), and that San Francisco’s large tourist base is not an unusual circumstance warranting further CEQA review, the court decided for  San Francisco.

There are now three separate cases upholding local plastic bag bans, each on substantially similar grounds, and none of which required an environmental impact report. Will this most recent installment finally put an end to the Coalition’s efforts to stop plastic bag bans? Or as more and more agencies adopt similar bans, will the sum of these actions on a statewide basis eventually tip the scales in the Coalition’s favor due to the fact that the manufacture of paper bags consumes more resources than the manufacture of plastic ones? Only time will tell, but for now, bag bans are likely to remain a popular local issue, and when visiting San Francisco, be sure to pack your reusable grocery bags!

Here is a related article from the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Heal the Bay.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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