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Suffolk Legislature Approves Plastic Bag Fees

Troy David Johnson
A wharf on Long Island Sound

Suffolk residents will have to pay 5 cents for plastic and paper store bags after county legislators passed a bill Wednesday night.

It will go into effect in 2018 according to the bill’s sponsor, William Spencer. Once it goes into effect, what we’re also looking to do is to make sure that there are plenty of free reusable bags that people can have access to.”

Legislators and environmentalists hope that the bill will reduce the use of plastic bags and help keep waterways clean.

“Once we put the 5-cent fee into effect, then we would assess the impact over the next 18 months,” Spencer said.

Several Suffolk County towns already have their own plastic bag bans in place, and New York City passed a similar bill earlier this year, which goes into effect in February 2017.  

The legislature also approved funds for the Town of Southold to strengthen the coast with the county’s first living shoreline.    

Layers of marsh cordgrass and black ribbed mussels will be planted at a canal off Cedar Beach to fight erosion and help reduce nitrogen and other toxins in the water.

The county and the town will each give $58,000 to the project.

Environmentalists from the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead helped with the planning. They say they hope to expand it to other coasts.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
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