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In the ongoing movement to make single-use plastic bags a thing of the past, the city of Menlo Park is just one of the latest to consider banning them outright. According to the Patch, Menlo Park is among 24 cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties currently considering such a plastic bag ban, with San Mateo County releasing a draft Environmental Impact Report on June 22. Like many other plastic bag ban proposals, bags used for produce and meat would not be affected.
“I did not see any surprises in the draft EIR, and the one thing we need to keep in mind that this is by no means final. We’re still in the draft stage,” said Dean Peterson, the Environmental Health Director of San Mateo County by phone. “Based on the results, there were a number of impacts that would be beneficial, and they’ll definitely aid in getting the ban through.”
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A partnership between the South San Francisco Unified School District and Chevron has resulted in what’s being called “the largest K – 12 solar and energy efficiency program in San Mateo County.”
Fifteen elementary, middle and high schools in the county will be outfitted with enough solar panels to generate 1.68 megawatts of electricity, which is expected to cut annual electricity usage by half and reduce carbon emissions by more than 1,500 metric tons. Financially speaking, that adds up to a whopping $20 million reduction in costs over the next 25 years.
The upgrades are being financed through Measure J, which was approved by voters in 2010. The local bond measure provided $162 million specifically for educational means, including infrastructure improvements.
"Harnessing the power of the sun helps make our schools more environmentally sustainable, cuts their energy bills, and creates thousands of teachable moments for our students," said California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a press release. "That's a win-win-win proposition, for our schools and for California."
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Taking a cue from the current battle being waged in San Francisco over plastic bags, San Mateo Country is arranging for an outside firm to conduct a full environmental impact report before moving forward on their own bag-banning legislation.
As we reported earlier this week, a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers filed suit against San Francisco for adopting an ordinance outlawing the use of plastic bags at most retail establishments. The Save The Plastic Bag Coalition is suing on the grounds that the city did so without conducting an environmental study and claiming exemption.
According to the Mercury News, the initial San Mateo draft ban would only apply to establishments in unincorporated areas, but a wide range of cities in the county have already said they would be open to considering similar bans.