Plastic bag bill is more about limiting home rule, greenies say
Staff reports | Who knew there was a “plastic bag lobby?” But there apparently is, according to environmental activists who are trying to thwart an effort to limit local governments’ abilities to make decisions about how they want to deal with waste in their boundaries.
In recent weeks, Isle of Palms and Folly Beach have banned plastic bags and Styrofoam containers as a way of keeping debris out of streams and the ocean. According to the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, “Communities up and down our coast are exploring ways to reduce single-use plastic items in order to keep our beaches clean and our sea creatures safe. Plastic products are easy to discard and break down into smaller bits called microplastics, harming sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and birds. Those microplastics also work their way through the food chain, through fish and ultimately to humans.”
But a House committee this week approved, with amendments, a bill (H. 3529) that would keep local governments from deciding how to deal with waste streams.
The bill, detractors say, is an incursion into local home rule because it would allow the state to act as nanny on things that should be local. The measure really isn’t a referendum on whether plastic bags should be banned, said SCCCL’s Katie Zimmerman: “ In fact, the bill is more about local control than anything else, and I think that point is somewhat lost. The bill is a tremendous overreach and it’s pretty shocking that legislators don’t seem to mind impeding local governments’ abilities to respond to their constituents and address problems at a local scale when needed.”
The House bill may be up for a floor vote early next week. If it passes, it would go to the Senate where some legislative critics are getting fired up against it.