06 • 29 • 2021

Surfrider Foundation Applauds Colorado’s Reversal of Preemption for Plastic Pollution Laws

By Angela Howe

Surfrider Foundation congratulates our coalition partners and inland activists who worked tirelessly on the passage of Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.  This law not only reverses the oppressive preemption of local plastic pollution reduction laws, it also sets a statewide ban on plastic bags and phase-out of polystyrene cups and containers.  By setting strong state standards to address plastic pollution, but also allowing localities to set even stricter laws, Colorado is quickly becoming a leader on plastic pollution reduction and an example for other states.

Preemption is the forestalling of action by another person or party before there is opportunity to act.  In the state law context, a state passes a law that takes away the right of local municipalities to act on a certain issue, such as plastic pollution reduction laws. Colorado is the first state in the nation to reverse statewide preemption of local plastic pollution reduction laws. Environmental advocates think this is a sign of what’s to come, with controversial laws in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania marking many U.S. states with plastic preemption laws.

Chad Nelsen, CEO of The Surfrider Foundation, dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, issued the following statement:

“We commend Colorado, the state legislature, Governor Jared Polis, and advocates across the state for their tireless commitment to eliminating plastic waste and allowing local rule by signing into law the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Today is a major victory for environmental activists, not just in Colorado, but across the country, as this bill marks the first state to reverse preemption of local ordinances, laying a blueprint for the elimination of these preemption laws that have stymied local efforts to reduce plastic waste for so long.”

Surfrider Foundation proudly stands in solidarity with our inland allies, like Colorado PIRG, and environmental activists who understand the threats of plastic pollution on land, in the waters of the US, and in the ocean of the world.