Like all things under the sun, plastic bags just want a chance to exist.  They want to hold your groceries, sit around under your sink for a while, then migrate to your garbage and eventually die in a landfill, where they will slowly disperse hydrocarbons into the environment for a few thousand years.  It’s their natural life cycle.

But California, the most evil and bag-hating state in the US, passed a bill that will make it so much tougher for the majestic plastic bag to fulfill its destiny:

The hottest debate Wednesday was in the state Assembly, which voted 41 to 27 to pass a bill that would ban single-use plastic grocery bags — the first of its kind in the nation, according to lawmakers and environmentalists. Shoppers would have to bring reusable bags to the store or pay at least 5 cents each for recycled paper bags at the checkout counter.

Schwarzenegger has indicated that he would sign the bill, AB 1998 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), if it passes the Senate as expected.

The bill doesn’t ban bags outright.  Instead, it imposes a 5 cent fee per bag.  This may not sound particularly draconian or effective, but bear in mind that a similar measure in Washington, DC effected a drop in plastic bag use from 22 million to 3 million.  That’s what mathematicians call “Holy shit dude that’s a lot of bags=X”.  The ‘=X’ part is where the math comes in.

If you’re so inclined, you can even read the bill in all its Courier typeface glory.