Mayor Keller vetoes repeal of Albuquerque’s plastic bag ban

Mayor Tim Keller vetoed a recent City Council decision to repeal the controversial ordinance, asking councilors to postpone any decision until an ongoing study into the impact of the ban is complete .

Now the council will have to decide whether or not to override that veto, and the odds are not in the mayor’s favor.

Earlier this month, six city councilors voted to repeal the ban – the same number it will take to override the veto.

Albuquerque Councilman Brook Bassan led the charge against the ban, saying the city shouldn’t decide what kind of bags residents can use.

“We should allow people to choose their priority and what they need to do to best meet their needs, rather than mandating us and telling them what to do,” Bassan said.

But many residents believe councilors don’t see the big picture.

Plastic pollution is real, and ignoring the problem won’t make it go away,” said Albuquerque resident Carol Chamberland.

Early data from the city’s solid waste department shows that only 10% of customers use reusable bags, while 38% use no bags. Councilors and residents agree the back and forth on the app has significantly limited the potential impact of the ban, but are split on how to move forward.

“We really have to give it a chance, get used to it, get used to bringing our own bags to grocery stores,” said Albuquerque resident Ingrid Muller.

“We have to have common ground, so we can’t be extreme and say ‘no plastic’, we can’t be extreme and just say one thing or another,” Bassan said.

City councilors are expected to respond to Keller’s veto at next week’s meeting.

Bryce K. Locke