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Abbott: Bag Bans 'Likely' Illegal

Abbott: Bag Bans 'Likely' Illegal
Posted August 30th, 2014 @ 4:24pm by Jim Forsyth, photo courtesy Shutterstock

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled late Friday that those municipal laws banning 'single use' plastic and paper shopping bags for environmental reasons, or imposing  fees for the use of 'single use' bags would 'likely' be found illegal in the courts, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

State Rep. Dan Flynn requested the opinion after nine cities in the state imposed bans on bags in the name of protecting the environment.

"A court would likely conclude that the Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits a city from adopting an ordinance that assesses a fee on the sale or use of single-use plastic bags," Abbott wrote in his opinion.

"In addition, a court would likely conclude that a city ordinance prohibiting or restricting single use plastic bags is also prohibited by the Health and Safety Code, if the city adopted the ordinance for solid waste management purposes."

Flynn said he is pleased with the ruling.

"I am happy that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issused the opinion sought by my request," Flynn said.  "General Abbott determined that a court would likely find that a city cannot assess a fee on the sale or use of a single-use plastic bag.  He also fond that if a factual inquiry determined that a city adopted a bag ban ordinance for solid waste management purposes, a court would likely conclude that such a ban would violate state law."

A proposed single use bag ban was floated at City Hall earlier this year, but was pulled in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Environmentalists saw hope in the ruling.

"Abbott's office left the door open for Texas cities and towns seeking to prevent the many other costs and harms of bag pollution," said Robin Schneider of the Texas Campaign for the Environment.  "None of these ordinances were about mere solid waste management.  They also seek to protect storm water, waste water and recycling infrastructure.  They are also threats to wildlife, livestock, fishing and tourism and save an estimated $25 million in costs to local taxpayers.'

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