ALBANY, N.Y. — As hundreds of advocates rallied in Albany against climate change and to push Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do more on the issue, his office announced legislation on Monday that would institute a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags by 2019.
The bill released Monday comes after the conclusion of a commission to study the issue, formed after Cuomo and state lawmakers blocked a fee on plastic bags in New York City from taking effect.
“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment,” Cuomo said. “As the old proverb goes: ‘We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,’ and with this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Legislature, where it remains unclear if the Senate will be controlled by Republicans or Democrats by the end of the legislative session, which concludes in June. The measure would impact single-use plastic carryout bags at any point of sale. Garment bags, trash bags and bags that are used to wrap or contain foods like fruit and sliced meets would be exempt.
Cuomo’s introduction of the bill comes as his rival for the Democratic nomination, actress and advocate Cynthia Nixon, appeared at the climate rally about a mile away from the Capitol.
Nixon didn’t assail Cuomo’s record on the environment, but insisted he could do more.
“Banning fracking in New York state is a good first step,” she said. “But if you’re allowing all this fracked gas infrastructure from the pipelines to the power plants to be built, you’re poisoning peoples’ communities.”
Nixon has her own plans for environmental policy, including a shift to 100 percent renewable energy in New York in the coming decades. It’s unclear how that would be accomplished, however.
Nixon has also taken notice of the whirlwind of policy activity from Cuomo’s office since she announced her campaign a month ago.
“There certainly seems to be in the last month a number of issues in which Gov. Cuomo has reversed himself rather startlingly,” she said