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Featured Letter: Let the county ban plastic bags

09/24/2015 9:00 AM |

I can certainly appreciate your editorial advocating for the banning of single-use plastic bags.

There are compelling reasons for a ban. It was incorrect, however, to state that I’m not willing to discuss the issue.

A speaker asked each board member if they would support proposing a law. My response was, not at this time. I also stated that I support a ban countywide. This would have a greater environmental impact and it would ensure that businesses operating in Suffolk County would do so on a level playing field.

Alternatives to single-use bags are expensive and local businesses, including farm stands, shouldn’t bear those costs while their competitors to the west do not. Also, I’m not sure that better, more environmentally friendly alternatives are out there. One speaker supported the ban but succinctly outlined why two likely alternatives, compostable plastic or paper, aren’t very good alternatives at all. It is unrealistic to think that shoppers are going to change their habits as a result of a ban. It is far more likely that businesses will adapt to customer demand by relying on alternatives that provide only modest benefits to the environment.

I am certainly willing to continue to discuss the issue and indicated so at the meeting. The public has a right to know where I stand and why. I just think that the county needs to be included in that discussion. It has more tools than Southold does, such as imposing a user tax.

Southold has no such authority. The county also has an army of attorneys to defend against the lawsuit that is likely to ensue. Discuss it? Sure, but let’s have a discussion on all of the challenges this ban would bring.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell

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