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Legislators drop proposed plastic bag ban

Plastic bags on a carousel at the Stop and Shop at the South Bay Plaza.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff, file 2017

Massachusetts House and Senate negotiators have dropped plans for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.

Lawmakers agreed this week on a $2.4 billion package of long-term environmental investments that authorizes state borrowing to repair coastal infrastructure, fix up parkways and trails, shore up state dams, and improve air and water quality. But the House prevailed in talks over a Senate-approved bag ban, which was eliminated from the final version of the bill.

Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli said the conferees simply could not find consensus on the issue that has passed the Senate at least twice without the House following suit.


“We are very disappointed the Legislature did not take action to ban single-use plastic bags this session. Over 80 cities and towns have voted to ban these bags in their own communities, representing over a third of Massachusetts residents,” Emily Norton, Massachusetts chapter director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Pignatelli posted to Twitter a photo of himself and Senators William Brownsberger and Anne Gobi handing the report to a clerk. “Didn’t get all that we wanted but extremely proud in the end,” the House chair of the Environment Committee wrote.

Pignatelli said the negotiators agreed to include all the House and Senate spending earmarks and grappled with some of the policy sections approved by one branch but not the other.

The compromise authorizes $225 million for “grant programs for land, soil, water and natural resource conservation; open space preservation; watershed remediation; coastal resource protection,” $150 million for air and water quality improvements and $100 million for coastal infrastructure and resiliency measures, including “seawalls, jetties, revetments, retaining walls, beach nourishment, living shorelines and other nature-based solutions.”

There is an $85 million authorization for repairs and maintenance to municipal and state dams, $45 million for remediation or removal of oil or hazardous materials and $50 million for Department of Fish and Game facilities.