Update: Surfrider is asking that people who support the plastic bag ban in Huntington Beach to attend Tuesday’s HB City Council Meeting at 6 PM.
During my tenure as a Huntington Beach City Councilman, I stopped counting the number of times we debated the issue of banning single-use plastic bags at 17.
17 times that a city by the ocean, known as being one of the greenest cities in the state, with the largest solar array in Orange County, debated whether or not to allow the proliferation of plastic bags along the coast. I voted with three of my other colleagues dozens of times to uphold and continue this common sense measure, a measure supported 4-1 by e-mails we received at the time from Huntington Beach residents.
Huntington Beach was clearly in the mainstream of California cities and counties, 138 of which are covered by a single-use plastic bag ordinance, and there are now more than 10 million people covered by these ordinances. Clearly that makes an impact. The state legislature passed the ban as well. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law, stating, “This bill is a step in the right direction. It reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks, and even the vast ocean itself.”
Predictably Big Plastic opposed this, and now we await the results of a initiative against this law – bought and paid for by plastic manufacturers.
Now newly elected Councilman Posey wants to repeal the single-use plastic bag ban in Huntington Beach, ostensibly because the right to a free plastic bag is a God-given American value.
Great, let’s move backwards.
Is this going to solve all our ocean pollution problems? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes.
Doing nothing is not an option. There are plenty of reasons not to overturn the ban:
Just today, the New York Times published a piece on a broad scientific study that paints a picture of the serious danger that face our oceans. Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says
Other studies on the threat of plastic pollution to our oceans are highlighted by the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The bags contribute to a massive plastics problem in our oceans. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that at least 88 percent of the surface of the world’s open oceans is polluted by plastic debris, much of it in the form of tiny particles resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic objects. Plastic has accumulated in the biggest concentration in the North Pacific Ocean, due west of the California coast. “Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation,” says Andres Cozar, the lead author of the study. “These micro plastics have an influence on the behavior and the food chain of marine organisms.” The findings raise significant worries about the risks faced by sea creatures living or feeding in this contaminated soup, and about the impact of this pollution on food webs.
According to another new study, published in the journal Science, small plastic fragments not only float in the water but are nearly ubiquitous in coastal sediments around the world. Those bits of plastic debris easily accumulate harmful chemicals from seawater. Ingestion of the dangerous particles by marine mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates is now well documented. Lead author Kara Law notes, “We are putting… a large amount of a synthetic material into a natural environment. We’re fundamentally changing the composition of the ocean.”
Shouldn’t a city that derives much of its income from ocean tourism and whose citizens use the ocean recreationally on a daily basis be the first in line to take steps to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean?