Clark, Merkley, Lowenthal Urge President-Elect Biden to Implement Comprehensive Approach to Tackle Plastic Crisis

December 11, 2020
Press Release
Plan could transform economy, bolster domestic infrastructure, and create jobs

Friday, December 11, 2020, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47) teamed up with Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley to urge President-elect Biden to adopt a comprehensive plan that would address the ramifications of plastic pollution on Americans’ health and our environment—both of which disproportionately impact communities of color—while also boosting the domestic manufacturing of sustainable alternatives and creating new jobs.

The proposed strategy, the Presidential Plastics Action Plan, is the culmination of over 400 environmental and health organizations’ work to identify crucial actions President-elect Biden could take to bypass congressional gridlock and prioritize communities that have historically been the hardest-hit by the impacts of the accelerating climate crisis: communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income Americans.

“Plastic pollution is everywhere – from visible trash in our streets, sidewalks, parking lots, rivers, and waterways to nearly invisible plastic dust raining down in our landscapes and national parks.[1] And it doesn’t go away – plastics break down into small pieces known as microplastics that make their way into the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink,” the lawmakers wrote.

Additionally, the lawmakers emphasized that the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis, coupled with America’s cry for long-overdue racial justice, make action on plastics all the more urgent. 

“We need only look at the disproportionate impacts that plastic production and pollution have on some of our poorest communities to understand how racial and environmental justice are inextricably linked. Plastic production and processing facilities, much like landfills, oil refineries, and other sources of industrial pollution, are overwhelmingly constructed in low-income communities of color that already bear the brunt of environmental and economic burdens,” they continued.

Specifically, the plan includes:

  • Using the purchasing power of the federal government to eliminate single-use plastic items and replace them with reusable products;
  • Suspending and denying permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities, associated infrastructure projects, and exports;
  • Making corporate polluters pay and rejecting false solutions;
  • Advancing environmental justice in petrochemical regions;
  • Updating existing federal regulations to curtail pollution from plastic facilities by using best available science and technology; 
  • Stopping federal subsidies to plastic producers;
  • Joining international efforts to establish binding commitments to reduce plastic use and eliminate single-use plastics; and
  • Reducing and mitigating the impacts of discarded and lost fishing gear. 

 

Merkley, Lowenthal, and Clark have led the charge for plastic pollution reduction policy, and plan to complement the efforts outlined in the plan by reintroducing the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in the new Congress.