Despite government-recommended procedures to contain the Coronavirus pandemic, including suspension of meetings larger than 250 people, Shell resisted suspending construction of it’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, where 6,000 workers continued reporting to the site, many transported to the site in crowded buses.
Pressure from workers, local citizens, the media, and Beaver County Commissioners resulted in Shell agreeing to pause construction.
No, those counties were not in Pennsylvania. BYOBagNY!
On Earth Day, April 23, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to ban the sale of single-use plastic bags. That ban goes into effect on March 1, 2020.
According to New York State Deparment of Environmental Conservation, “New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually-each for about 12 minutes-and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets.”
After reviewing 2500 comments generated during a 60-day comment period and public hearing, the final rules for the ban have been drafted and will be published in the State Register on Feb. 26, 2020.
NYSDEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos, says “New York continues to be a national leader on environmental issues, and the plastic bag ban is the latest in a series of actions Governor Cuomo has directed to preserve our air, land, and waters for future generations. DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work to develop solutions to combat climate change and protect the environment and we continue to encourage New Yorkers to BYOBagNY and bring their own reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop.”
DEC says enforcement of the ban will follow in the months ahead, but will be preceded by public education efforts to ensure a smooth transition for consumers and affected retailers.
New York vs. Pennsylvania
In contrast to New York Governor Cuomo, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation in June 2019 to block local communities from banning or taxing plastic bags for at least one year.
In addition, Governor Wolf helped engineer a $1.65 billion “incentive package” to attract Royal Dutch Shell’s ethylene cracker plant in Beaver County—the largest tax break in Pennsylvania history. That cracker plant will produce one million tons of plastic each year, and is permitted to emit 522 tons of cancer-causing Volatile Organic Compounds into the air.
The state line between New York and Pennsylvania is increasingly becoming a boundary between a habitable zone and an ecological sacrifice zone.