Several major political players were at a Downtown Los Angeles Vons on Sunday morning to promote AB 1998, the state proposal to ban single-use plastic bags and most paper bags from grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. The bill already has Assembly approval and it is up for a Senate vote on Monday. Tuesday is the deadline to pass the measure in the Legislature before it is forwarded to the governor for his signature.

AB 1998 is supported by environmental groups, the California Grocers Association and unions. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) leads the opposition.

Assemblymember Julia Brownley, whose district includes Malibu, authored the bill. She spoke at the press conference. Other speakers included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Heal the Bay President Mark Gold.

“This is the strongest legislation yet to finally change consumer behavior and to ensure we in California will rid ourselves of a nasty plastic bag habit,” Brownley said.

AB 1998 proponents say plastic bags create an environmental threat, especially on the beaches. A statement on the ACC’s Web site says improving recycling programs is a better solution.

“This bill is bad for the economy and bad for the environment,” the ACC states. “It will eliminate several hundred California manufacturing jobs and dismantle existing plastic bag recycling programs.”

Brownley called this a “David and Goliath fight.” She said the ACC is working hard to defeat the bill because it knows this is a battle ground.

“They know if California goes, so will our neighboring coastal states … and then the country.”

Malibu banned single-use plastic bags two years ago. Yaroslavsky and Villaraigosa said Los Angeles County and City would move toward bans if AB 1998 does not pass. Officials from other cities, including Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach, have made the same declaration.

-Jonathan Friedman