- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California voters were narrowly leaning toward upholding a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags early Wednesday.

The referendum’s “yes” vote led with just under 52 percent of the vote.

Proposition 67 was placed on Tuesday’s ballot by plastic bag industry supporters to try to overturn a ban approved by the Legislature two years ago.

A coalition of environmental groups, grocers and others led the campaign to uphold the statewide ban.

“Based on the counties that have reported as well as the counties that are yet to report, we’re feeling optimistic that the current lead for Proposition 67 is going to increase,” Mark Murray, spokesman for the Yes on 67 Campaign, said Tuesday night.

Voters rejected a second measure, Proposition 65, which proposed to create an environmental fund with proceeds from a 10-cent charge for alternative bags.

Environmental groups and other critics said it was put on the ballot to confuse voters.

In 2007, San Francisco banned plastic shopping bags, setting off a movement that led nearly half the state and its biggest cities to do the same. Two years ago, the Legislature passed SB270, a statewide ban that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance led the campaign to repeal SB270.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Yes on 67, said plastic bags kill marine life, jam recycling equipment and cause litter.

But the American Progressive Bag Alliance claimed the ban would kill thousands of jobs in California and cost consumers hundreds of dollars annually in bag fees. Plastic companies and bag manufacturers have spent more than $6 million to place the two measures on the ballot and campaign for them.

Alliance spokesman Jon Berrier said during the campaign that plastic retail bags represent less than half a percent of the waste stream.

“Science has really left the building when it comes to making policy around this issue,” he said.

The Surfrider Foundation opposed Proposition 65, contending it was unclear what the environmental fund would actually do or how it would be structured within the current conservation agencies in the state.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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