A five-cent bag fee on all disposable carryout bags has passed two D.C. council committees unanimously.
Studies have suggested about up to half of the trash in the Anacostia River and its tributaries is plastic bags which get snagged on trees, caught around birds and turtles or eventually eaten by fish.
Before the fee takes effect the city must conduct a public education campaign and provide free reusable bags to D.C. residents, particularly to elderly and low-income residents.
Council member Tommy Wells said most of the opposition came from outside the District. Some critics say most of the Anacostia River flows through Maryland and residents there need to take more responsibility.
Delegate Al Carr, who introduced the measure, said he didn't think he had the votes in Maryland for it to pass. But he said he's continuing to build support and will try again next year. The fee on paper and plastic bags is expected to generate about $3 million. A final council vote is expected on June 2.
Kavitha Cardoza reports...
Copyright 2009 WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio. All Rights Reserved.