DC Bag Bill Is Law
The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act passed the DC Council's second reading today. The vote was again unanimous.
Starting January 1, 2010, virtually all retailers that sell food in the District will charge 5 cents for each plastic or paper bag they distribute. One to two cents of the fee will return to the retailer, and the remainder will go into an Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund, to help restore one of the most polluted rivers in the country. The fund will also pay for reusable bags and an educational campaign for low-income, elderly, and other needy residents.
The bill also establishes a new special license plate (the first non-standard license plate in the city) and other voluntary revenue streams to keep the fund solvent. The city's CFO estimates that the fee will reduce demand for bags by 90 percent in 5 years.
Councilmember Tommy Wells, who drafted the legislation (and who is a special guest this Saturday at Ripple), announced today that Safeway is donating 10,000 reusable bags to distribute to low-income families in the city.
The bill was supported by a coalition of approximately 30 environmental and community groups. Surfrider's DC Chapter led the way on gaining public support for the bill, coordinating a postcard campaign to collect signatures at grocery stores and community events, and keeping an army of volunteers at the ready to answer questions and combat false information spread on blogs, news articles, and other online news sources. We also testified at the public hearing, met with several councilmembers and their staff, and even designed the coalition's logo.
The DC Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will be celebrating International Surfing Day by holding an art show fundraiser (Ripple: Art Affecting Oceans) at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital in South East DC. It's a celebration of art and the ocean, featuring art, music, wine and beer, food, and a silent auction. Proceeds will go directly to Surfrider Foundation's DC Chapter to help keep our waters clean.