Statement on Gov Cuomo’s Signing of Moratorium Bill from Jennie Romer, Esq.

Statement on Gov Cuomo’s Signing of Moratorium Bill from Jennie Romer, Esq. – Founder of plasticbaglaws.org, Pro Bono Counsel to NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, and Coordinator of NYC’s Bag It Coalition

I am profoundly disappointed with the Governor’s decision not to veto the moratorium bill (S4158/A4883), and even more disappointed with the supermajority in New York’s Democrat-controlled Assembly that ushered the bill to his desk. Today was a victory for the plastics industry and their lobbyists. Today was a loss for the environment. I’d hoped that Trump’s presidency would spur greater concern with strengthening and protecting environmental laws at the local and state level, but at least in some respects it seems to have emboldened conservatives. Plastic bags are a single product and a relatively very small issue, and I hope that this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.bag

I’ve studied carryout bag laws for a decade and my goal is to help develop the most state-of-the-art, effective, and equitable policies. As I’ve said countless times over the last four years working on the development and promotion of NYC’s #BYOBag law, carryout bag laws that have a fee component are by far the most effective and equitable policies. There are two structures that I support and both include a fee component to spur customers to bring their own bags: a fee on all bags or a ban on thin plastic bags and a fee on all other bags. NYC’s #BYOBag law would have required retailers to charge five cents per bag at the register.

One of the most successful plays in plastics’ industry’s playbook is to present ineffective policy options (a straight ban, recycling, voluntary programs, credits) as a red herring to delay adoption or implementation of bag laws. That’s exactly what happened here. 

I want to sincerely thank the dedicated members of our Bag It NYC Coalition – representing over 75 environmental advocates representing communities across New York City and State – for all of their tremendous advocacy, support, and hard work over the last several years. While we did not succeed in bringing the BYOBag law across the finish line this February, we certainly succeeded in raising the profile of this critically important issue all across New York State.

And of course, none of our achievements could be made possible without Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin for championing this law in New York City and our allies in the State legislature for standing up for NYC’s sensible, ready-to-implement policy.