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California couldn't pass that plastic bag ban we were expecting, but the city of Brownsville, Texas, is going ahead with a law that will charge customers an extra $1 surcharge for "any transaction involving plastic bags" at a supermarket or convenience store (small hardware stores, cleaners, and a few others are exempted). The law goes into effect January 5.

Charging a full dollar makes this law much harsher than similar ones in other parts of the country. Washington, D.C.'s tax, for example, is only five cents per bag. It still reduced the number of plastic bags that stores gave out by somewhere around 50 percent. Brownsville's law should reduce the number of plastic bags people use by even more than that—and raise some money for a good cause. The funds are going to be used for "clean up and environmental projects."

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