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Environmental Law

California Supremes Uphold Plastic Bag Ban in Manhattan Beach

Posted Jul 15, 2011 7:52 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The California Supreme Court has upheld a ban on plastic bags in Manhattan Beach, ruling a full-scale environmental review isn’t needed.

The industry group Save the Plastic Bag Coalition had argued that shifting to paper bags would cause even more damage to the environment, report the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. But the California Supreme Court said Manhattan Beach was correct in deciding the switch did not trigger the need for a full-scale environmental review under state law.

“When we consider the actual scale of the environmental impacts that might follow from increased paper bag use in Manhattan Beach, instead of comparing the global impacts of paper and plastic bags, it is plain the city acted within its discretion when it determined that its ban on plastic bags would have no significant effect on the environment,” the court said in its opinion (PDF).

The court said its analysis would be different if a larger governmental body banned plastic bags, possibly causing a significant increase in the use of paper bags.

Ruling on a second issue in the case, the supreme court said corporations don’t have to meet a higher standard to qualify for public interest standing, the Recorder reports.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Anti-Trans-Fat Crusading Lawyer Loves Plastic, Sues Over Bag Bans; Has He Gone to ‘Dark Side’?”

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