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Supes Plan to Defend Plastic Bag Ban in Face of Lawsuit

Supervisor Charles McGlashan calls the lawsuit an example of "self-serving corporate greed."

The Marin County Board of Supervisors plan to defend its case supporting the plastic bag ban in the face of a lawsuit filed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition on Feb. 24.

Amid enthusiastic cheers from the public, the supervisors unanimously passed the ordinance on Jan. 25.  On top of banning plastic bags in unincorporated Marin, the ordinance imposes a 5-cent fee per paper bag for anyone who forgets their own reusable bags at grocery stores.

The lawsuit argues the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by passing the ban without first completing an environmental impact report. 

“We’re suing based on the fact that the plastic bag ban issue requires science, namely environmental science, before a rational, intelligent decision can be made,” Stephen Joseph, the coalition’s counsel, told Patch the day the suit was filed.

The coalition claims an environmental impact report would have proved a 5-cent fee wouldn’t be enough to dissuade shoppers from using paper bags, and the life cycle of paper bags results in 3.3 times the greenhouse gas emissions than plastic bags.

 Since the county did not complete an EIR, the ordinance should be deemed invalid, the coalition argues.

“This is just self-serving corporate greed,” said Supervisor Charles McGlashan, who represents Mill Valley, Belvedere, Sausalito and Tiburon.

McGlashan the coalition’s claims that an EIR would invalidate the ordinance were unfounded and studies have shown similar bans encourage the use of reusable bags.

If the county must go through with an EIR because of the lawsuit, McGlashan said that the board would approve the ordinance again after the EIR was completed.

“All this lawsuit is doing is running up the bill for the tax payer,” he said.

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Editor's note: This story has been revised.

Stephen Joseph March 01, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Millions of dollars? Nonsense. According to the Ark newspaper published on February 2, 2011, Supervisor McGlashan said that the County had calculated that an EIR would cost taxpayers $50,000 to $100,000, while a possible lawsuit would cost about $5,000. In fact, an EIR would cost much less than $50,000, because the county could use the already completed Los Angeles County EIR as a template.
Nicole Ely March 02, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Thank you for your comment Stephen. I am double checking with a few sources to follow up and I will get back to you when I hear back.
Nicole Ely March 02, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Stephen, According to a policy associate at Californians Against Waste in Sacramento, there is the potential for ongoing legal fees in addition to an EIR to add up to over a million dollars, but it would be rare. This associate estimates that an EIR could be in the ballpark of $100,000 to $150,000. Thank you for the feedback and I included an editor's note to clarify to readers.
judy March 02, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Nobody should trust Charles McGlashan. He believes strongly that the USA should adopt the European way, Socialism. Oddly enough Europe is getting rid of Socialism. Europe doesn't use plastic bags unless you pay for them. They always used their own bags, then offered plastic, again at a price. Back to Charles, he also gave us the SMART Train Disaster. Again, he qoutes out how well it works in Europe. Excuse me, Europe is way different than the USA. There are no suburbs in Europe. Charles also gave us the Marin Energy Authority. He gave us this because he hates America and it's principles of capitalism. All these things and others makes him a Socialist and arguably a Marxists. He wants big government and he wants government to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. These are principles that are anti-democracy. And, they cost you a ton in tax which we cannot pay. He is one of the many that is taking away civil liberties and trying to make us all sub serviant to government. It is time Marin runs these guys out of town because they spend, spend, spend. And none of it is logical spending. Just look at how well they have managed the larkspur ferry. That thing is a dump. They are the same cushions in the boat from 35 years ago!! It is time we get people in government that know how to run businesses and get rid of those people that only know how to spend other peoples money, socialism (e.g. Charles McGlashan)

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