Monday, February 16, 2009

More Bottling Up

There was one outlet we missed in our review of the coverage of the bottle bill and soda tax last Thursday-and the Epoch Times ran a nice photo story on the presser, marred only be misidentifying yours truly as Nelson Eusebio: "Supermarket and bodega owners, green grocers, bottlers, and others gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday to protest plans for the expansion of the Bottle Bill. According to the press release issued by organizers, whatever the environmental benefits that may come from this expansion plan, they won’t mitigate the severe harm that will be done to inner city stores that have no room to store containers currently covered under existing law."

Also, Gotham Gazette ran a nice summary of the controversy surrounding the expansion-with a vignette of the indefatigable Laura Haight doing her usual show and tell in Albany; with an emphasis on the litter reduction aspects of the expanded bill. But, as the web site points out, there is still no clear signal that the expansion will win the support of a majority in the state senate: "But Albany is still Albany and things still come down to three men in a room. “As long-time advocates know, support from [Senate] Majority Leader Malcolm Smith will be a clearer indication of how high a priority this issue will be given,” wrote Joshua Klainberg on the League of Conservation Voters blog. And Smith is “uncommitted” to the bill. His lack of support for it may well be why the bill was not included as expected in the deficit reduction package agreed on by the state last week."

What's really funny in all this, though, is the claim that the Empire State Beer Distributors have been supporting expansion since 1983; and the website links a letter written-by none other than Richard Lipsky-to the NY Times in 1990! But, when reading the letter, the contents have nothing to do with expanding the existing law-a position that was never taken when we directed the Association for the better part of a decade

The GG also reports on our mobilization as well: "That is likely good news to a coalition of food retailers who planned a rally on the steps of City Hall today in protest of an expansion of the bill (and the “obesity tax”). “The bottle law,” the coalition’s press release argued, “acts just like an unfunded mandate, with retailers bearing the cost of redemption at great expense — restricting their ability to grow employment and prosper.”

Clearly, the battle ahead will be both intense and unpredictable. In our view, however, it will take place after the budget is put to bed-and as a stand alone measure to be decided on its own merits.