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June 12, 2009

Daily News

Bottle Bill Battle Advances

The state has obtained an emergency hearing next Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on its request to modify the preliminary injunction preventing the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill from being enacted until April 2010.

Not only has the attorney general's office, (which is handling the case for the state), asked the court to allow the law, which was supposed to go into effect June 1, to be immediately implemented, but it has also asked for the plaintiff's security bond to be increased from $10,000 to $115 million.

That just so happens to be the amount of revenue that expanding the 5-cent deposit to apply to bottled water was expected to generate for state coffers. (According to the state, the tab is $235,000 a day).

Needless to say, the plaintiffs - Nestle Waters, which has challenged the constitutionality of the expanded Bottle Bill, is none too pleased.

"The Court has already ruled that provisions of the Bottle Bill violate the U.S. Constitution, but rather than fixing the bill, the Attorney General's office is seeking to place a tax on anyone who would bring a challenge to the state when it tramples on the Constitution," said Nestle spokesman Brian Flaherty.

"Can the Attorney General, who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, truly be putting a price tag on constitutional challenges?"

“Nestlé Waters strongly supports deposit laws that promote comprehensive recycling. New York’s bottle bill was a step in the wrong direction because it left out a wide variety of containers, including noncarbonated beverages with added sugar."

At the same time, it would take money out of municipal systems that desperately need the revenue to support their environmental efforts.:

“There is widespread agreement that the state legislature and the governor need to fix the bottle bill to protect recycling programs," Flaherty concluded. "The state should be working with local leaders, businesses, and environmental advocates to enact a bill that achieves its goals. We stand ready to help them in this effort and we hope they take this opportunity to correct their mistakes.”

The expanded Bottle Bill was included in the state budget, which passed in early April. Gov. David Paterson and environmental advocates touted the measure at an Earth Day celebration on April 22 - even as there were already signs that lawmakers were going to have to go back to the drawing board to amend it.

Cuomo spokeswoman Emily Browne sent over a response, which appears after the jump.

"The State's request for an increased bond, which is required by the law, is designed to approximate the revenues that will be lost to the State if it is ultimately found that the Court's injunction was granted in error. Indeed, it appears that the Court granted an injunction far broader than actually sought by Nestle."

It is misleading and absurd forNestle (a multinational corporation that derives hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues from this State) to suggest that efforts to redress this error, as well as the State’s request to obtain a bond that will protect its financial interest, is a “price tag” on their constitutional right.

In reality, the State’s application is designed to narrow the injunction in accordance with Nestle’s own application and to ensure that Nestle and other similarly situated corporations do not receive a windfall at the expense of New York State citizens. Obviously, the court will decide the appropriate bond to be imposed."


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