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State Preemption Efforts Lead to Court Battles on Plastic Pollution

December 7, 2017

Surfrider Foundation,

Angela Howe,

December 5, 2017-

“Preemption” is a legal term to describe when a higher authority takes control of a certain issue or area of regulation.  In the world of plastic pollution, preemption is when statewide legislation is used to take away a local city’s right to pass a bag ban, foam ban or other local ordinance to prevent plastic litter.  Ten states currently have this type of preemption in the U.S.  In two states, Florida and Texas, there is pending litigation over whether preemption exists and whether local municipalities have the right to pass plastic pollution regulations for the betterment of their local communities.

Coral Gables, nicknamed “the Beautiful City” is a town of 50,000 people in Florida’s Miami-Dade County that is home to University of Miami.  In order to protect the health and safety of their community, the City Commission of Coral Gables decided to pass an expanded polystyrene (“EPS”) foam food-ware ban in December 2015. The ban applies to city vendors, at special events and in take-out food containers.

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