BOSTON — Massachusetts may become the first state in the nation to outlaw plastic bags at supermarkets and other businesses.
Legislation to prohibit plastic bags unless they are biodegradable has won surprising approval from the Legislature's environmental committee and sponsors are encouraged it could win final approval from the lawmakers.
State Rep. Lori Ehrlich, a Democrat from coastal Marblehead, is the primay author of the bill. She said plastic bags are an ecological menace, despoiling beaches and oceans and threatening animal life.
"Nothing that we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years," said Ehrlich. "Anyone who's attended a beach cleanup knows how much plastic is in our ocean."
Opponents of the legislation see it as government overreach. Supermarket interests say it will cause consumers both inconvenience and money.
But a veteran Republican legislator, Rep. Brad Hill of Ipswich, said he's impressed with the committee's endorsement. "When the environmental committee put it out as quickly as it did, it has legs," said Hill.
Details for this story were provided by the Salem, Mass., News.