Planet Gore

Seattle Votes Down a Green Tax

If they’ve lost Seattle . . .

Seattle voters have rejected a 20-cent fee for every paper or plastic bag they get from supermarkets, drug stores and convenience stores. The city’s incumbent mayor didn’t fare much better than the fee, trailing two challengers in a bid for a third term.

With about half the ballots counted in the all-mail vote, the bag fee was failing 58 percent to 42 percent in Tuesday’s primary.

City leaders had passed an ordinance to charge the bag fee, which was to start in January. But the plastics industry bankrolled a referendum to put the question to voters in Tuesday’s election.

Plastic-bag makers have lobbied hard to defeat the fee, outspending opponents about 15 to 1.

Adam Parmer, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax, said the results show the bag fee was “a costly, unnecessary tax” and the wrong approach to changing behavior.

“Seattle voters have made it clear that this is not the approach they want to take in protecting the environment,” he said.

Supporters argue the fee would encourage more reusable bags, cut down on pollution and waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This campaign is about much more than just one decision of the voters,” said Rob Gala, a spokesman for Seattle Green Bag campaign, which backed the fee. “It’s really about raising the awareness of voters, and we’ve really accomplished that.”

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