Worse & Worser: California’s plastic bag ban bill

August 13, 2014


How one California State Senator should have quit while he was behind. Vote expected Thursday.

plasticbagimages_thumb_180x160 The idea, Senator Alex Padilla thought, was to outlaw plastic bags altogether. Banning plastic bags was a winning issue! Everybody was doing it: San Francisco! Portland! Laguna Beach! Seattle! LA! The biggest brains and brightest lights were backing a bag ban.

It was supported by air tight logic. Plastic is evil–everybody knows that. Those bags are like ebola to marine life. Entire schools of fish and collections of cetaceans dine out at garbage island and–BOOM!–they’re dead within days. If they can ever actually find garbage island, the Health Department will give it an “F” rating,  just you wait.

After researchers found no garbage island, activists went out and found one. Note the size of the raft next to it. Note, too, plastic fishing line, but no plastic bags.

But those bags are a menace on land, too. Those light weight ‘T’ shaped-bags are collecting like snow drifts along California curbs! In fact, at this moment, there could be a sea turtle who emerged from the water spill who passes his days munching bags on Sunset Boulevard.

Bag banners conjured this image to sell idea sea mammals eat plastic bags, a claim which has been debunked.
Bag banners conjured this image to sell idea sea mammals eat plastic bags, a claim which has been debunked.

These bags are such a menace they end up in land fills. Who do we think we are using bags made out of captured-off-gas to hold our groceries? What kind of monsters are we when we recycle them at the store or reuse them to pick up dog poop or line our trash cans? And, more horrifically, how dare we take that reused bag and  THEN THROW IT AWAY where bags make up an infinitesimal (0.40%) space in land fills! 

Plastic bags aren’t even really ‘plastic’ as we traditionally know it. Bag banners wish to extinguish the light weight “T-shirt” bags made from ethane gas. The ethane gas is ordinarily emitted into the atmosphere while processing natural gas, but, in the US, bag manufacturers capture it and make the bags. Put another way, a greenhouse gas is stopped from polluting the atmosphere and made into something useful.  

The environmentalists are against that. (Call 1-800-Whip-Lash if you suffer injury due to that pretzel logic.) But there’s more bad news for the plastic-bags-are-evil crowd! There is no bag-filled garbage island, no plastic bag induced fish die offs and no snow drifts of plastic bags. 

But that doesn’t mean this issue isn’t a winner for State Senator Padilla. Voters don’t seem to know the facts. And the media? They’re eating up the battle! Grocery stores versus plastic bag manufacturers! BOOM! Grocery stores against poor people! BAM! Scribes scrum! Cameras hum! Microphones are slung! All eyes on him!

In fact, Alex Padilla is so devoted to the idea of banning bags, alterations to his bill are getting more absurd.  He first set out to appease the spotted -owl-global-cooling-warming-chaos-climatephobia scare mongers. He proclaimed the proposed statewide plastic bag ban a ‘compromise.’

Now let’s be honest. Accepting the dodgy “facts” of the people behind provably false claims, writing a bill based on them and claiming it’s a compromise is a little like bidding against yourself at an auction or like government collective bargaining. 

So Padilla appealed to common sense. You know, the kind employed by 12 year olds. It goes something like this: Oh, c’mon, Mom, everybody’s doing it! The state senate analog is since 90 + cities in California have a plastic bag ban, the state should naturally follow along, providing a common, streamlined, predictable law for the entire state. Which might make sense if the ban had been built on, you know, facts…and stuff.

When Padilla got blow back from the bag manufacturers for killing plastic bag jobs, he tried to pay off manufacturers by allowing them to apply for “grants” (read: cash giveaways) to make politically correct bags. Seeding needed changes in manufacturing with enticements by government money giveaways might make sense if the ban had been based on, you know, facts…and stuff.

When he got blow back for proposing a new fee on paper bags and forcing people to buy more expensive reusable bags (usually built in China–helllllloooo, carbon footprint anyone?) he changed his bill again, giving poor people an exemption. Which would make sense, I guess, if the bill had been a moral imperative built on, you know, facts…and stuff.

Each time the state-senator-turned-candidate-for-secretary-of-state has changed his bill, he has outed it as an expensive, unnecessary fraud, based on nothing but the airy fairy, hoped-for-verisimilitudes which might make sense if it had been built on, you know, facts…and stuff.

But it’s not. California lawmakers should say ‘no’ because at least a ‘no’ vote is built on, you know, facts…and stuff.