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Corpus Christi to Move Forward with Bag Ordinance

PHOTO: CREDIT: Kate Ter Haar
PHOTO: CREDIT: Kate Ter Haar
June 27, 2013

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - After being pulled from the table over legal concerns, a proposed plastic bag ordinance in Corpus Christi is expected to be back before the city council before the end of summer. The plan was set aside this spring with worries that it could get caught up in a lawsuit against Austin's bag ordinance, but Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez said they have determined that should not be an issue.

"The city attorney originally thought we should wait, but he has since done additional research and feels that we don't have the exposure," Martinez said. "He's adding some other language that will keep us from being entangled into the Austin lawsuit."

The Texas Retailers Association sued Austin over its single-use bag ban, which took effect on March 1, saying it is a violation of state law.

The plan in Corpus Christi is to reduce the pollution not through a ban, but with local retail stores charging for plastic bags.

"The fee would be a motivator for people to skip the single-use, plastic bag and to bring their reusable bag," Martinez explained.

The issue must be addressed locally because of the negative impacts from the plastic bags on wildlife, tourism, and farmers and ranchers and their animals, she said.

"Cattle are also pretty predominant here in the south Texas area," Martinez noted, "and if that bag is ingested, it can be deadly - there's been many cases where it has been. And being a cotton area, the plastic bags also get caught up into the equipment."

According to the Texas Campaign for the Environment, bag proposals are also being considered in Dallas, Laredo and San Antonio, while ordinances are already on the books in a half-dozen other cities in the state.

More information is available at www.surfrider.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX