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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - October 2016

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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - October 2016

by Tish Levee

October’s Theme—the Election

November 8th is a critical day for the environment and climate change. First, and foremost, we’re electing a president for at least four years. Many climate advocates aren’t pleased with the options available and are talking about voting for a third-party or a write-in-candidate. But as Al Gore recently pointed out, this is a disastrous policy for the planet and climate change. I wrote an op-ed in last month’s Gazette, “Why We Need to Pull Together,” discussing the problems with this approach and comparing Mr. Trump and Secy. Clinton’s climate policies, tinyurl.com/jkp67o6.

Here in California we’re electing a successor to Senator Barbara Boxer, a strong advocate for the environment (ranking member and former Chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works). Both candidates running, Kamala Harris and Loretta Lynch, are Democrats and have taken stances in favor of climate proposals.

Here in Sonoma County, it’s important to look at the climate policies of local candidates, too. Meanwhile, 34% of Congress are climate deniers, representing over 200 million Americans. Let’s help defeat them!

However, more than candidates are on the ballot

Propostion 67 would ban disposable plastic bags in California. These bags entangle, suffocate, and poison hundreds of species, including sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals – some of which, mistaking bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics and die of starvation. Sonoma County’s plastic bag ban went into effect two years ago. Shortly afterward Gov. Brown signed SB 270, which would have made California the first state to ban plastic bags by July of this year. 

However, four large out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers, spent over $7 million to overturn this law by placing it on the November ballot as a referendum – Proposition 67. Go to cawrecycles.org/cavsbigplastic to learn more about Proposition 67 and to endorse it. 

The US annually throws away 100 billion plastic bags, which use at least 12 million barrels of oil. Less than 5% are recycled even if you place them in a special container, as it costs nearly $4000/tonne more to recycle them than they are worth. The out-of-state companies funding opposition to the plastic bag ban are only interested in their profits, not in protecting our environment. This ban will protect the environment with no decrease in job creation and won’t hurt low-income consumers either, as those paying with food stamps don’t have to pay the 10 cent/bag fee if they don’t bring their own. We need this state-wide ban, because although over 150 jurisdictions have banned them, nearly 2/3 of Californians live where single-use bags aren’t prohibited.

California’s banning single-use plastic bags would set an important environmental precedent for other states; one Morocco recently set for nations by becoming the first country to ban them.

Another plastic bag issue on the ballot: Proposition 65 

Under Proposition 65 the 10 cents/bag that grocery stores must charge for bags if customers don’t bring their own would go into a new state fund, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Fund. This could be used to support drought mitigation, clean drinking water supplies, recycling, litter removal, wildlife habitat restoration, beach cleanup, and state, regional, and local parks; stores couldn’t keep any of this money. However, stores aren’t profiting from this 10 cent charge; they use the money to provide compostable, recyclable, or reusable bags (paper bags can cost 14 to 15 cents each), and for educational materials encouraging the use of reusable bags.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), which funded the petition drive to place Proposition 67 on the ballot, is also behind Proposition 65.

NOTE: The State Legislative Analyst’s Office has said that Proposition 65 might overturn a Proposition 67 bag ban depending on how courts interpret these propositions.

Vote Yes on Proposition 67 and NO on Proposition 65!

A different kind of website this month. 

The Environmental Voter Project was founded to greatly increase voter demand for progressive environmental policy by identifying environmentalists who don’t vote and then turning them into consistent activists and voters. Learn more at environmentalvoter.org and take the pledge to vote every election with environmental concerns as a priority.

©Copyright Tish Levee, 2016