Plastic Industry Tackles Seattle Bag Fee

"SEATTLE - Leaders of this famously green city last year passed the nation's first grocery-bag fee, and other cities around the nation quickly followed.

But the plastics industry has been fighting back, bringing lawsuits, aggressively lobbying lawmakers, and bankrolling a referendum in Seattle that aims to overturn the 20-cent charge. The measure goes before voters Tuesday, and polls show marginal support after the industry spent $1.4 million, outspending supporters of the bag fee by a ratio of about 15-1.

If the bag fee fails in an eco-conscious city such as Seattle, observers say, it will be a tough sell elsewhere.

'This amount of money is about bullying public officials,' said Rob Gala, a spokesman for Seattle Green Bag campaign, which has raised about $93,000 to back the fee. 'They're trying to send a message to elected officials across the country who are thinking about similar measures.'"

Phuong Le reports for the Associated Press August 16, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009