Yes, my bridge is still for sale.
This morning's Wheeling Intelligencer editorial, “Plastic Bag Fees Not Good Idea,” argues that a plastic bag fee at Ohio’s grocery stores would put an unfair burden upon the poor and it chastises liberals for even suggesting the idea.
The editorial points to environmentally-conscious cities that have passed legislation eliminating or taxing plastic grocery bags. Apparently, some Ohio cities are considering such fees. Fortunately for bag makers like subsidiaries of Koch Industries, the Republican-led House of Representative has passed legislation prohibiting such fees. The editorial defends this in the interests of low-income Americans:
One interesting aspect of local plastic bag fees is that they often are promoted by the same crowd of liberals who never tire of proclaiming they are defenders of low-income Americans. How, one wonders, is padding a family’s grocery bill with fees on plastic bags helping them?
But are plastic bags less expensive than alternatives? Pinky Kocoshis, writing in the Cincinnati Inquirer argues otherwise:
• Plastic bags are costly. While one paper grocery bag equals the cost of 5 plastic bags, it takes 5-8 plastic bags to fill the equivalent of one paper bag. And if a cloth bag is used, it can be used many more times than a single use plastic bag.
• Plastic bags have many external costs beside the cost of manufacturing and buying. The cost of plastic bag cleanup is about 17 cents per bag, and on average, each taxpayer ends up paying about $88 per year just on plastic bag waste. Other costs include the true environmental cost of resource extraction and depletion, quality of life loss, economic loss from littering, and wildlife loss.
( Note -- Kocoshis is “co-president of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cincinnati and chair of its Natural Resource Committee.”) She also suggests the damage to the environment that plastic bags cause:
• Plastic bags pollute our land and water. Being lightweight they blow long distances littering our landscape, floating along our waterways and eventually reaching the oceans.
• Plastic bags are made from non-renewable fossil fuels (petroleum and natural gas) and are energy intensive to produce. Through their extraction and production, they create greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change.
• Plastic bags never break down. They are eaten by wildlife and marine life like fish and shrimp causing congestion in their throat and often death. Fish eat small plastic particles and when fish are consumed by humans the PCBs from the plastic eaten by fish /shrimp accumulate in the human body. PCBs are known to be hormone disrupters.
Fortunately for Ohioans interested in protecting plastic bags, the Ohio House of Representatives has passed legislation to prevent cities (such as Cincinnati) from banning such bags. And not unlike their support for charter schools discussed last week, the Republicans were greatly helped by special interest groups. As Cleveland.com reports:
But if conservative lawmakers were running the bill through the House, there were powerful business groups clearing a path for them, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, the National Federation of Independent Businesses - Ohio, and the Ohio Grocers Association, among many others.
The size of their clout can be seen in their campaign donations to lawmakers: Groups and lobbyists supporting HB625 gave a total of nearly $591,000 to Ohio House members in 2017 and 2018, according to a cleveland.com analysis of campaign-finance records.
What about the other side?
By contrast, groups and lobbyists who opposed HB625, including the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, donated a combined $4,915 to House members during the last two years, according to the analysis.
No takers on the bridge? Hmmm. Maybe I should reduce the price.