Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Slippery Slope Indeed

Plastics News is reporting this week that the California Supreme Court has allowed the city of Manhattan Beach to ban the use of single-use plastic carryout bags. But part of the rationale suggests a very challenging future for broader bans in California.

One of the challenges to the ban was that an Environmental Impact Review had not been completed. The court had a interesting take on that issue however:
"First, even though the court said no environmental impact report (EIR) is needed in the Manhattan Beach case because “substantial evidence and common sense support the city’s determination that its ordinance would have no significant environmental effect,” the court also said that its analysis of whether an EIR is necessary to enact a plastic bag ban would vary under different circumstances.

“The analysis would be different for a ban on plastic bags by a larger governmental body [as it] might precipitate a significant increase in paper bag consumption,” said the court.

In addition, the court said “cumulative impacts [of bans] should not be allowed to escape review when they arise from a series of small-scale projects.”"
Now that could get to be a very difficult question to answer in the future: how big is too big? And also, how many is too many?

The only certainty from this decision? Job security for lawyers.

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