Sweet Justice in Manhattan Beach

Major Corporate Interests Lose at the Supreme Court! A dream headline to be sure, but it wasn’t a U.S. Supreme Court decision. It was California’s Supreme Court that did the right thing Thursday. The court issued a unanimous opinion that Manhattan Beach did not need to complete a burdensome and costly EIR to move forward with its single-use plastic bag ban. Major props to Manhattan Beach for sticking with this case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The decision should lead to the proliferation of more local plastic bag bans throughout the state. The city of Los Angeles has no further excuses to delay moving forward with a citywide ban on plastic bags. The Mayor and City Council long ago agreed to move forward on a ban, but the looming EIR requirement was used as an excuse to delay action.

John Murdock, Heal the Bay’s attorney on the case said, “I think the issue will fade from the litigation scene unless the plastics industry just wants to toss away more money for harassment purposes.”

Murdock’s arguments representing Heal the Bay as an amicus in the case were some of the prevailing arguments. His brief emphasized that Manhattan Beach’s ordinance is environmentally beneficial, not detrimental.  Also, the court looked favorably on his argument that the city is far too small to cause significant impacts on such enormous issues as global warming and deforestation, in the unlikely event consumers switched from plastic to paper.

Stephen Joseph, poster boy and attorney for the plastic bag industry, and the plastic bag manufacturers may finally stop picking on cities that attempt to protect our aquatic environment through bag bans. Also, the decision sends a strong message that these frivolous lawsuits brought by polluting interests against environmental laws under the guise of the California Environmental Quality Act are a waste of time and money.

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