Plastic Bag Pollution
Texas has more marine plastic pollution than any other state, with our beaches home to ten times as much debris as those on the eastern Gulf Coast.
As one means of attacking this serious environmental threat, at least 11 Texas cities have restricted single-use plastic bags, including Laredo. In 2015 Laredo retailers sued the city over their single-use bag ordinance, with state district court declaring the law legal, and a 2-1 appeals court decision declaring it illegal.
The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments on the matter in January, and more than a dozen individuals and interest groups filed amicus briefs urging them to respect local rights to limit this pollution. These groups included:
Black Bass Unlimited, a fishing tour company whose business is threatened by bag pollution
Texas Cotton Ginners Association, a major Texas industry threatened by bag pollution
Natural Grocers and Bicycle Sport Shop, retailers that have benefited from single-use bag ordinances
Jose Aliseda (R), Bee County District Attorney, former State Representative and rancher whose livestock is threatened by bag pollution
Texas Campaign for the Environment
Rio Grande International Study Center
Texans for Clean Water, Inc
Turtle Island Restoration Network, a nonprofit engaged in conserving sea turtles threatened by bag pollution
Senator Judith Zaffirini
City of Galveston
City of Houston
Texas Municipal League and Texas City Attorneys Association
These and other advocates hope for a decision allowing local governments to address a problem that impacts their bottom line and the environment. In the wake of the ordinances already passed communities noted significant reductions in litter, improved recycling processing, and saved money for retailers.
Texas Supreme Court Expected to Rule on Local Bag Bans in June, Advocates Prepare to Respond
AUSTIN–Single-use bag pollution opponents anticipate a decision from the Supreme Court of Texas upholding or striking down local bag ordinances before the end of June. Supreme Court decisions are handed down on Friday mornings, meaning that the decision is likely to come on the morning of June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22 or June 29. Activists will alert media outlets shortly after the decision is released at 9 AM local time.
When the decision comes down advocates will have press availability the same day at 11:30 PM on the east side of the Supreme Court (the north mall of the Texas Capitol). Out of town media can contact Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) for comment via phone or email.
“Communities around the world have seen cleaner streets and healthier environments when they eliminate these, cheap, unnecessary products,” Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment Executive Director, said. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court of Texas will respect the law and protect both business and the environment by preserving these effective local ordinances.”