Albany, NY -- The Green Party of New York said today that the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Cuomo yesterday was a betrayal of democracy and environmental stewardship. Party officers stated that the law, which essentially bans local legislation on the 5-cent fee, shows how deeply in the pockets of lobbyists the Legislature and the Governor are, and that the need for home rule on issues like these has never been greater. The Greens – part of the coalition to pass the legislation in NYC – also said that plastic bag fees work and that the arguments made by State Senator Simcha Felder and his cosponsors were disingenuous to the public and their actions harmful to the environment. Green officers said that if the Legislature and Governor were truly concerned about the costs of the fee, they would move quickly to ban plastic bags entirely as California and Hawaii have done.
“The actions of the Legislature and Governor show how desperately we need home rule in New York; legislators in Albany should not be able to overrule municipalities on issues such as this. The Bring Your Own Bag Law, passed by the New York City Council, would begin to address the scourge of single-use plastic bags on the city’s environment. The Governor noted that the bill only passed the Council by eight votes, but we would like to remind Governor Cuomo that a 28-20 vote is still a majority, and regardless of how large a majority it is, any majority vote is still democracy. The Green Party of New York regards grassroots democracy as a bedrock principle, and as such we must call for home rule in this instance and denounce the abrogation of local democracy by state government,” said Green Party co-chair and Brooklyn native Gloria Mattera.
“Plastic bag fees work to reduce environmental waste in every location where they’ve been implemented, as research shows even a small fee of 5 cents can change a culture that sees bags as harmless and disposable to one where people choose reusable bags. The Bring Your Own Bag Law even provided for waiving the fee for the poorest New Yorkers carrying items purchased with SNAP or WIC, but now they will have to deal with continued litter and garbage trucks, though Sen. Felder, Gov. Cuomo and the lobby don’t seem concerned about that. The Green Party calls your bluff, Governor and Legislators: if you truly care about the environment and the wallets of New Yorkers, and not your lobbyist friends, ban plastic bags altogether and impose fees on paper ones like California has done. It’s a simple step, but with the level of dysfunction in Albany, we won’t hold our breath – we’ll be in the streets demanding it,” concluded co-chair Peter LaVenia.