‘Grandpa’ Quinn’s vexing plastic bag veto
HERALD-NEWS editorial September 12, 2012 10:04PM
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:35AM
Gov. Pat Quinn gave 13-year-old Abby Goldberg, of Grayslake, a victory in her impressive campaign against the use of plastic bags.
Abby, welcome to the wacky world of Illinois legislation where imperfect but useful laws are jettisoned in favor of supposedly perfect ones that never come to pass.
Abby’s 150,000-signature online drive against a law that would facilitate statewide recycling of plastic bags grew out of her belief and others’ that the law did not go far enough. She’s a winning example of youthful enthusiasm energized by access to a world audience.
Abby was right in principle but wrong in practice. And so was Quinn.
Whether her lobbying against the law persuaded the governor to veto the bill is debatable. But it certainly gave him a grandfatherly cloak to do what he would have done anyway.
The result? No state law to deal with the problem of proliferating plastic bags in landfills.
We acknowledged previously that this law was not perfect but was preferable to allowing towns to impose a patchwork of prohibitions on the polystyrene bags across the state. Banning the bags goes too far (they’re hardly a public danger) and denies consumers a choice.
The ditched law, which was backed by the plastics industry, would not permit municipal bans and would implement a large-scale recycling plan. It was not a final solution, but sometimes the law must provide interim answers that lead to a better solution.
This law seemed good enough for starters. It would’ve required bag manufacturers to establish recycling sites within 10 miles of 80 percent of Illinois residents by 2015 and boost the recycling rate by at least 12 percent by that year.
Quinn, who fancies himself an environmentalist, tempered his veto by assuring us that the Legislature would come up with a better plastic bag law. Really? Exactly what about our lawmakers inspires such optimism?
As for Abby, we think she has
a bright future. Much brighter than Illinois’ chances of adopting an effective plastic bag recycling law.