American Chemistry Council Spends Over $1 Million to Fight Seattle Green Bag Fee

Posted by — July 23, 2009 3:10 pm
As the city of Seattle continues to push a fee on plastic bags to reduce urban litter and clean the environment, the oil industry spoke up by dumping over one million dollars into their own campaign to keep the plastic bag free. They’ve also pledged to add an additional $300,000 by the end of this week (Seattle Times).
On Tuesday, The American Chemistry Council spent $500,000 in direct mail and radio ads to be issued throughout the weekend to persuade Seattlites to vote against the ballot measure, which would put a fee of 20 cents on every bag issued to a shopper. They contributed another $300,000 to the campaign the very next day. According to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission staff, this is the largest contribution to any ballot measure in the last decade. (Seattle Times)
Within the ACC, a lobbyist group called the Progressive Bag Affiliates was designed to stop cities from enacting plastic bag bans or fees. On the ACC’s web site, their mission reads, “The Progressive Bag Affiliates promotes the responsible use, reuse, recycling and disposal of plastic bags.” (American Chemistry)
The ACC can throw money toward their campaign without batting an eye, when they’re backed by corporations like ExxonMobil and the Dow Chemical Company– two corporations with less-than-perfect reputations in the environmental world.
Dow Chemical, the creator of herbicide Agent Orange, caused cancer and birth defects to humans exposed to it during the Vietnam War. In 1989, ExxonMobil caused ecological havoc, when they spilled over 10 million gallons of crude oil off the coast of California, dirtying the sea and killing marine life.
Recycling and keeping the earth clean is not their motivation—they want to keep the plastic bag business alive. The ACC hopes it will garner support by spinning the fee legislation, saying it’s directly discriminating against the low income and elderly who can’t afford to buy bags. This argument assumes the low income and elderly don’t have the faculties to carry reusable bags, which seems unreasonable, especially given that Seattle’s bag fee legislation includes a free reusable bag program for the elderly and low income.
This is not the first attempt by the ACC to stop the Seattle legislation. Over the past year, the lobbyist group has recruited and paid workers to go to Seattle and collect signatures to petition the bag fee and place the measure on the ballot as a referendum. Last year, the ACC gave $239,000 to fight the bag fee.
The American Chemistry Council is backed by the oil industry and wants plastic bags to proliferate to keep their supporter’s pockets full. It is wrong to think a low-income citizen cannot reuse a bag, or choose to not take a bag. Rich and poor alike—no one wants to live in a city trashed with plastic bags.

Support the Seattle Green Bag Campaign and vote YES on Referendum 1 to protect our environment and save resources!

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