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12-Year-Old Girl Urges Quinn To Toss Out Plastic Bag Legislation

Plastic Bag (Credit: CBS)

Plastic Bag (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A 12-year-old from Grayslake has made a personal appeal to Gov. Pat Quinn to veto legislation that would prevent communities like hers from banning retailers from using plastic shopping bags.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the legislation on the governor’s desk would require plastic bag recycling programs statewide, but would also prevent local governments, except Chicago, from banning the bags altogether, or charging a fee to use them.

That steamed 7th grader Abby Goldberg, who started a school project to get her hometown of Grayslake to ban plastic shopping bags, but learned the Illinois General Assembly approved legislation prohibiting such bans.

“If we take that right away, the bag ban I hope to get in my town would no longer be considered a responsible environmental policy. The bag ban would be an illegal act in the eyes of the state,” Abby said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports


The legislation is still awaiting the governor’s signature, and Goldberg helped gather 150,000 petition signatures online, supporting a veto of the measure.

“Big Plastic and the chemical industry should not use their power to take away the rights of local citizens to do what is best for their environment. It is not my 12-year-old voice, but theirs as well,” she said. “Special interest power and money should not have the right to use big government to tell local communities what is right for them.”

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard — whose city council has supported plans for a tax on plastic bags — added his voice, and when Abby and Gerard brought the petitions to the governor’s office in Chicago, Quinn himself came out to accept them.

“I really think what Don just said, and what Abby has talked about is, in Illinois, with our environmental article, we want to do things that are right for the environment,” he said.

But Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said local bans on plastic bags thwart recycling.

“California tried a program like this. They did not preempt local control, and so what happened is you had more than 50 percent of the population … their municipalities opted out, and so you didn’t have the mass program, or the volume to take these plastic bags and … get them out of the landfills,” Denzler said.

Officially, the governor has not said that he will veto the legislation, but dropped hints that is what he’ll do.

“If you look at my record on the environment, I think we’ve been very far-reaching at passing laws in Illinois to help our environment,” Quinn said.

Abby was also told she’ll be invited back to the governor’s office.

Quinn also has the option of using his amendatory veto power to change the legislation so that the statewide bag recycling program would stay in place, while removing the prohibition on local governments from banning plastic shopping bags.