Opponents battle Calif. plastic bag ban w/ ad

SACRAMENTO The /*American Chemistry Council*/ is ratcheting up the pressure, even hiring more lobbying firms to ensure its defeat.

"We need to get our message out," said Tim Shestek of the ACC. "This is a big issue. This has ramifications beyond California if it were to pass. We make a product that we think has a good environmental footprint, that's fully recyclable, that's being demonized by folks on the other side."

The bill's author realizes it's the closing days of session with lobbyists typically cramming Capitol hallways to protect their interests, but they said this campaign is unusual.

"I've never witnessed this kind of opposition to a bill," said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica).

The ad says, "A $19 billion deficit. And what are some Sacramento politicians focused on? Grocery bags."

But only a small fraction of the 19 billion bags Californians use yearly actually get recycled. Experts estimate it takes at least 1,000 years for a standard plastic bag to breakdown in a landfill.

A ban would force consumers to bring their own bag or possibly pay for a paper one.

Environmentalists now worry the new campaign by the chemical industry will derail their years-long effort.

"I am concerned that this heavy-handed and basically misleading tactic on behalf of the chemical industry is going to sway a certain number of votes," said Mark Murray of /*Californians Against Waste*/.

The fate of the plastic bag ban now rests in the Senate.

Two Democrats, who likely would have assured passage with their votes in favor, are absent due to serious health problems.

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