Pittsburgh council opposes state budget measure preventing local plastic bag bans | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh council opposes state budget measure preventing local plastic bag bans

Bob Bauder
Single-use plastic bag pollution prompted a recent proposal for a 2-cent fee on plastic fees. Pittsburgh City Council has pledged unanimous opposition to an amendment to Pennsylvania’s fiscal code that would prohibit municipalities from restricting the use of single-use plastics, including shopping bags and wrappers.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously opposed an 11-hour amendment to Pennsylvania budget that would temporarily block local governments from banning or taxing single-use plastic bags, wrappers and Styrofoam.

The amendment tacked on to the state fiscal code late Wednesday by Republicans has passed the House and Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign it.

Local legislators voted for the bill in order to pass the $34 billion budget, according to a spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus.

City Council on Thursday sent a letter to Allegheny County House and Senate members and Gov. Wolf, urging them to vote against the measure. All nine council members signed it.

“It’s unfortunate,” Councilwoman Erika Strassburger said. “We’re already preempted by the state on so many things, and we just don’t need the state to restrict us on other things.”

Strassburger of Squirrel Hill said she proposed the letter because of the dangers plastics pose for the environment and to support Philadelphia’s proposed ordinance that would ban plastic bags in the city.

Environmentalists say single-use plastic, which can take centuries to degrade, is polluting oceans, rivers and cluttering up landfills.

The fiscal code amendment would prohibit any ban, taxes or regulations on single-use plastics, reusable plastics, auxiliary containers, wrappings and polystyrene containers until two reports to the General Assembly are complete. The reports are due by Dec. 31, 2020.

Strassburger said Pittsburgh is not currently considering regulations on plastic bags, but she would not rule out a future ordinance.

“We need to get to the point of reducing plastic,” she said. “It’s a very serious environmental threat.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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