St. Louis Park considers plastic bag ban

Did you remember your bags? It’s a question that may soon have a lot more gravity in St. Louis Park, which the Star Tribune’s John Reinan reports, “…is on the verge of doing something that no other city in Minnesota has done: enacting a complete ban on single-use plastic bags. … A plastic-bag ban would instantly put St. Louis Park on the map as a national pacesetter in environmental consciousness. ‘I hope St. Louis Park will be a leader on this,’ said Tim Brausen, a City Council member who made the idea part of his campaign platform when he was elected in 2013. ‘I think it’s time to be forward-looking and intelligent about our use of resources. I don’t think we can pursue what’s cheapest and easiest any longer. We have to look at what’s healthy and sustainable.’”

Once again, we’re number two on two wheels. MPR’s Jon Collins reports that, for the second year in a row, the League of American Bicyclists has named Minnesota the nation’s second most bike-friendly state (after Washington). “Minnesota has ranked in the top five every year since 2008. Wisconsin was ranked as ninth in the country, six places below that state's 2014 ranking. …The report does recommend that Minnesota increase the punishment for drivers who recklessly kill a bicyclist or pedestrian. … A bill being considered at the state Legislature would increase the crime from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor.”

Meanwhile, a more dubious honor for our neighbors to the west: a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research called South Dakota the worst state for reproductive rights, according to Olga Khazan at the Atlantic. “ Women seeking abortions in South Dakota face a three-day waiting period and must undergo in-person counseling that necessitates two trips to the clinic. Nearly a quarter of women in the state live in a county that doesn’t have an abortion provider. … The state does not require insurers to cover infertility treatments, nor does it mandate sex education in schools.”

Some improvements coming to Riverside Plaza. The Star Tribune’s Erin Golden reports: “Managers and residents of one of Minneapolis’ most recognizable affordable housing developments have struck a tentative deal to improve problems ranging from lengthy elevator shutdowns to concerns over discrimination. … Among the changes: converting some permit-parking spaces to metered or short-term visitor parking; hiring an elevator service company to work on-site and tackle elevator breakdowns immediately, and setting up cultural sensitivity training for Riverside Plaza employees.”

Someone catch this bastard. “Someone threw a cat out of a moving van in Roseville earlier this month, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is putting up $2,500 to help catch the culprit,” reports the Pioneer Press’ Marino Eccher. “A police officer rushed the cat -- now named Blue -- to a veterinary hospital. The feline suffered broken teeth and leg fractures and lost skin on her paws and tail, but is now recovering.” Click through for heartbreaking photo. 😿

In other news…

A Duluth doctor who traveled to Sierra Leone to help respond to the ebola outbreak there (but didn't directly treat any ebola patients) is being barred from returning to the hospital where he works for 21 days. [Duluth News Tribune]

Crime flat or down in St. Cloudjust don’t ask any St. Cloudians. [St. Cloud Times]

“Son Of Slain Elk River Police Officer Charged With Murder” [WCCO]

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Ty Reed on 05/12/2015 - 03:06 pm.

    Curse those PETA terrorists!

    Oh they are helping a dog and/or cat………ok move along then. All’s well and good here.

    I’m pleased a reward has been posted by the way.

  2. Submitted by Richard Voorhees on 05/12/2015 - 03:16 pm.

    bags

    In 1980 in Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain no complimentary bags, plastic or paper, were offered. It was, “Bring your own bags. If you want your wine or aguardiente from the barrel bring bottles.” On the first day it was a surprise. Thereafter no hardship.

  3. Submitted by Richard Callahan on 05/12/2015 - 04:40 pm.

    For a different perspective, one could argue that burying plastic bags in a landfill is a form of carbon sequestration and beneficial to the environment compared to other uses such as burning the equivalent weight in the form of gasoline in your car. A gallon of gasoline burned by your auto will put 20 lbs of global warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while the equivalent weight of hydrocarbons will make about 1800 plastic bags that end up in a landfill with zero carbon dioxide emissions.

    With 1800 plastic bags being a 20 year supply for most people versus the 20 minutes it takes to burn a gallon of gas on the freeway, I think the angst over plastic bags is overblown. There are bigger fish to fry. This is just another example of “feel-good” environmentalism.

    The justification for banning plastic bags in a coastal area is that they end up as ocean waste, which is damaging. Plastic bags in our landfills are beneficial as CO2 sequestration.

    My calculation: 20 lbs CO2/gal * 454 g/lb / 5 g/bag = 1800 bags/gallon of gas

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/12/2015 - 05:09 pm.

      What?

      How does turning hydrocarbons into plastic bags result in fewer automobile-generated emissions? People aren’t using plastic bags instead of driving cars.

      • Submitted by Richard Callahan on 05/12/2015 - 09:43 pm.

        Sorry, if I wasn’t clear. The point is that so much political effort and press goes into such meaningless things like banning plastic bags, when other environmental issues that are millions of times more important are so ignored. People will put a thousand pounds of CO2 into the air driving their cars to attend a meeting to ban plastic bags. They’d do more good just to stay home.

        The oil refineries are there to produce fuel for cars and heating homes, not to make petrochemicals for plastics. That’s just a bonus. Banning plastic bags does little but make some people feel good.

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/13/2015 - 11:40 am.

          bags

          One meeting vs. many years of being free of plastic bags. Not sure your comparing apples to apples here. That said I’d prefer to continue using plastic bags so I don’t have to come up with something else for my dog waste.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/13/2015 - 03:24 pm.

          Feeling good

          Reducing the amount of non-degradable material going into landfills is a good thing.

          It may just be a feel good effort, but it does have an impact. Little efforts like this are also all that cities like St. Louis Park are able to do. It’s a contribution, however small.

  4. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 05/12/2015 - 08:34 pm.

    Comedy gold: “Plastic Bags are GOOD for the environment!”

    Let’s break down this unintentionally hilarious argument.

    “one could argue that burying plastic bags in a landfill is a form of carbon sequestration and beneficial to the environment compared to other uses such as burning the equivalent weight in the form of gasoline in your car”

    First of all, the world we live in isn’t one in which a given quantity of fossil fuels that ends up as a plastic bag keeps a given quantity of fossil fuels from being burned as motor fuel. Both happen.

    The scenario is one of “plastic bag” versus “no plastic bag”. To make a plastic bag, one extracts already sequestered carbon from the ground (petroleum and natural gas in the case of ethylene), ships it, refines it, makes a bag, ships it to a store, etc. That whole production chain adds combusted fossil fuels to the atmosphere, producing positive radiative forcing. Leaving oil in the ground has no radiative forcing effect.

    Furthermore, as is common in the Twin Cities, garbage from St. Louis Park is sent to a waste-to-energy facility – in this case, the HERC plant in Minneapolis. Meaning, a plastic bag that goes in the trash in SLP generally ends up being combusted, ie, the carbon content of it is converted into CO2 and creates a positive radiative forcing.

    If a person understands how the carbon cycle works, one understands paper, for example, is for the most part carbon-neutral (aside from the energy inputs in production and shipping) because trees pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. Anthropogenic global warming is caused primarily by taking carbon stored as fossil fuels and combusting it a rapid rate, such that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases.

    “The justification for banning plastic bags in a coastal area is that they end up as ocean waste, which is damaging.”

    Plastic bags can also get loose in human environments, or in landfills, and can be an ingestion or suffocation hazard for birds and animals. There are also consequences in terms of toxicity from burning of the bags etc.

    Also, if you think people only use 90 plastic bags a year, take a trip to the supermarket. You’ll often find nearly that many piled up in one person’s cart, as double-bagging is common. 90 is closer to one month’s consumption, according to EPA figures.

    Lifecycle CO2 equivalent emissions from 1 kg of HPE bags (about 123 bags at 8.12 g/bag) are about 2 kg CO2. CO2 equivalent emissions from a gallon of motor gasoline are about 10 kg. So that’s roughly 615 bags equivalent to a gallon of gasoline, or about 7.5 months of bags.

    Of course it’s a non sequitur to compare them in the first place.

  5. Submitted by Moira Heffron on 05/12/2015 - 10:21 pm.

    Not only in the ocean

    I reuse plastic bags all the time. I would hate to think people would increase their purchase of manufactured plastic bags for all those purposes (ex. wastebasket liners, pet poop, picking up litter while hiking, wet swim suit sequestration after swimming). Those are concerns to address. That said, I spent a day in April pulling plastic bags which had been blown about out of the pond and shoreline where birds were nesting. They turn up in all our bodies of water–it’s not just the ocean.

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