Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bottle Bill Bottled Up

As the Crain's Insider is reporting this morning, the efforts of the Paterson administration to include the "Bigger, Better, Bottle Bill" in its budget reduction package is kaput-thanks to the efforts of the industry/labor coalition:

"The bottle bill was pulled from the deficit reduction package agreed to yesterday by Gov. Paterson and Assembly and Senate leaders, in part because the bill would not have produced any revenue for this fiscal year. The bottle bill, which would expand nickel deposits to noncarbonated-beverage bottles and promote recycling, will be part of the governor’s proposal to close fiscal 2010’s deficit of $13 billion. Even worse for environmentalists, $175 million will be taken from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to close the gap. The governor wanted to take only $50 million."

This does not mean, however, that the measure is dead for the year; since it will likely re-emerge in the ongoing budget discussions that will begin to surface as we approach the April 1st deadline. Still, the maneuver by Judy Enck in the governor's office to slip this through, was countered by the opposition-and the opponents of the expansion, particularly independent supermarkets, bodegas and green grocers that the Alliance advocates for, will continue to raise their objections.

Next week, the opposition will gather at city hall to express its concerns that the expansion of the container redemption measure will add to the burdens of local stores-at a time when these stores are struggling to survive. As Ramon Murphy, head of the Bodega Association, said in El Diario yesterday: "In addition, there should be a freeze on any new regulations that inhibit the ability of smaller retailers to make a profit. Chief among these is the proposal to expand the state’s bottle law to include water and juice containers. The compliance with the current bottle law’s mandates is too costly as it is; but adding more containers in the current economic climate is just wrong."