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Hawkins Says Cuomo’s Plastic Bag Bill is Earth Day Greenwashing

Hawkins Says Cuomo’s Plastic Bag Bill is Earth Day Greenwashing

For immediate release: April 24, 2018

Howie Hawkins called Governor Cuomo’s plastic bag ban proposal yesterday a publicity stunt designed to divert attention from thousands of climate change activists at the Capitol on Monday saying it was time for Cuomo to Walk the Talk.

Hawkins was one of 55 climate activists arrested out of the Governor’s office. Hawkins supports legislation to require NYS to go to 100% clean energy (not just electricity) by 2030; a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure (including revoking the CPV permit in Orange County); and a robust carbon tax.

Hawkins supports a statewide plastic bag ban similar to California coupled with a fee on paper bags, as Sen. Liz Krueger has already introduced. Without such a fee, consumers just change to paper bags which have their own environmental problems. Cuomo also proposes to exempt restaurants from the ban.

“Cuomo’s wastes too much time greenwashing. The real problem is that he blocked the NYC plastic bag law that the Brooklyn Green Party helped passed. And while he likes to proclaim himself as a national leader on climate change, he is flooding the state with imported fracked gas, giving billions of dollars to old nukes, and is getting only 3 to 4% of the state’s electricity from renewables,” noted Hawkins.

Hawkins called on Mayor de Blasio to pass a version of the California law at the city level and called on Cuomo to publicly commit to veto any legislative attempt to override home rule on this question. There are enough Democrats in the legislature who will be run this November as environmentalists to sustain the veto in at least one of the houses of the legislature. Hawkins said it would be preferable for the state to adopt the ban because it could keep the revenue, whereas NYC would have to return to the fee to store owners.

“Plastic bags are an environmental and economic burden on our community. Plastic bags are made from petroleum. They create litter, harm wildlife, and degrade ocean and land ecosystems. Even the most remote places on our planet are being overrun by plastic bags since they are so lightweight and are easily carried by the wind and water. Banning plastic bags is a simple step to reduce local solid waste costs,” said Hawkins.

New York City was forced by the Governor and State Legislature to continue to spend $12 million each year to dump 10 billion plastic bags in landfills. Many more bags get stuck in trees, storm drains, sewage-treatment plants, and recycling machinery. Research shows that plastics originating from land account for 80% of global marine pollution, are a toxic ingredient of our seafood, and are second on the list of deadliest marine litter.

Plastic bags cost about 3-5 cents each, and that cost is then incorporated into prices of the items sold at stores. The cost of plastic bag cleanup is about 17 cents per bag, and on average, taxpayers end up paying about $88 per year just on plastic bag waste

“We should be not be harming our environment, spending our tax dollars, and littering our communities solely to protect the profits of the plastic industry,” added Hawkins.

Hawkins said the plastic bag ban should be the first step toward banning all single-use plastics, which are driving many ocean species exctinction and degrading ocean ecosystems. “Single-use plastic are produced in five seconds, used for five minutes, and pollute forever as they break down into toxic micro-plastics that concentrate in food chains and poison living creatures, including humans. New York should join Taiwan in phasing in a ban on all single-use plastics,” Hawkins said.

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