SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, August 27, 2012 (ENS) – Illinois cities and towns can still pass ordinances to ban single-use plastic bags now that Governor Pat Quinn Sunday vetoed the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act, SB 3442.

Illinois student Abby Goldberg, 13, joined by more than 173,000 people who signed her petition on Change.org, persuaded Governor Quinn to veto the bill. He did so on Sunday.

Under the bill passed by the State Legislature municipalities would have been forbidden to enact bans or fees on plastic bags. Plastic bag manufacturers would have been required to establish recycling programs and increase the amount of plastic bags and films recycled in the state by 12 percent before the end of 2015.

Governor Pat Quinn

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

“While I agree with the intent of the legislation, I share concerns that this program would not increase the rate of recycling beyond the natural growth,” said Governor Quinn.

The bill was opposed by the Illinois Municipal League and 150 municipalities that felt it would undermine home rule.

“Local authorities and the environmental community strongly oppose this program because the metrics are simply not aggressive enough and home rule preemption prevents more stringent local regulation,” said Quinn.

Quinn said, “Justice Louis Brandeis once called states the ‘laboratories of democracy’ for our nation. Let’s not tie the hands of innovative Illinois municipalities that are laboratories of reform for Illinois.”

Said Joe Schatteman, deputy legislative director of the Illinois Municipal League, which requested a veto of the legislation, “The legislation took away local control of the issue. Communities looking at setting their own goals, charging a plastic bag fee or possibly implementing a plastic bag ban would be prohibited from adopting such measures.”

The Illinois legislature passed the bill in May over opposition from Illinois’ environmental and recycling groups as well as municipalities. With his veto, Governor Quinn has prevented the bill from becoming law and returned it to the Illinois Senate, which reconvenes in late November.

Goldberg

Abby Goldberg, left, at her press conference with Illinois Environmental Council Executive Director Jennifer Walling and Max Muller of Environment Illinois at Prairie Crossing School, Grayslake, Illinois, August 26, 2012 (Photo courtesy Illinois Environmental Council)

After her year-long campaign under the slogan, “Don’t Let Big Plastic Bully Me,” Goldberg held a celebratory press conference Sunday at her school, the Prairie Crossing Charter School in the Chicago suburb of Grayslake.

“I couldn’t sit by quietly while big plastic tried to push this bill through my state,” said Goldberg. “I care too much about animals, our environment, and our future natural resources to be silent. That’s why I took action, and why I’m so thankful that Governor Quinn took a stand for the environment in vetoing this bill.”

Goldberg’s effort began in August 2011 when given an assignment to design a project for her environmental awareness class. She decided her project would be to motivate Grayslake to ban plastic bags. But when she found out about the state legislation that would prevent a ban, she began her online petition campaign.

“I love animals,” Goldberg said in a statement today. “When I saw birds and turtles choked by plastic bags, it hurt. I’ve learned that no matter what your age, you can make a difference.”

If enacted, the bill would have been the most restrictive limit in the nation on local governments’ rights to cut plastic bag waste.

“I’ve learned that no matter what your age, you can make a difference,” said Goldberg. “Governor Quinn heard a loud and clear message from more than 170,000 people that local communities should have the right to enact plastic bag bans in Illinois. I’m very proud of everyone who came together to call for a veto of this bill.”

Mike Jones, deputy campaign director with Change.org, said, “Abby should be extremely proud that she was able to rally tens of thousands of people, and successfully persuade Governor Quinn to veto this bill.”

“It’s just another example of how students across the country are using Change.org to make a difference in their community, city and state. Abby’s campaign was extremely popular, and touched a nerve with people all throughout Illinois and the United States.”

Governor Quinn, a Democrat, has won praise for his leadership on environmental issues. He helped pass measures on solar and wind energy, including sourcing electricity for the State Capitol building from wind power, and helped secure funding for high-speed rail in the Midwest corridor. In the 2010 primary, the Sierra Club, Illinois’s largest environmental group, endorsed Quinn, calling him “The Green Governor.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.