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Leaf Blowers Blast in New Direction

DEC 4, 2018, 6:22 PM D.C. Council Strikes Death Blow To Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Rachel Kurzius If signed by the mayor, the gas-powered leaf blower ban would begin in 2022. Grahford / Flickr

Blow a kiss goodbye to gasoline-powered leaf blowers, which the D.C. Council voted to ban on Tuesday during its legislative session. The Council passed the Leaf Blower Regulation Amendment Act as part of its consent agenda. That means that the bill was packaged alongside dozens of other pieces of legislation and ceremonial resolutions and passed unanimously by the D.C. Council. Other items on the consent agenda included a 10 percent raise for Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson; a pilot program to bring public restrooms to the District; and a symbolic designation for the 300 block of E Street SW as “Hidden Figures Way.” The gas-powered leaf blower ban was introduced by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. It amends the Noise Control Act of 1977 to prohibit the sale or use of gas-powered leaf blowers as of January 1, 2022, with a maximum fine of $500 for violations. Battery-powered blowers are still permitted and gas-powered blowers are allowed on federal land. The movement to ban gas-powered leaf blowers began in Wesley Heights, with proponents like The Atlantic writer and former presidential speechwriter James Fallows, The Atlantic writer Deb Fallows, and composer Haskell Small. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in seven of the city’s eight wards endorsed the measure. The arguments were that gas-powered leaf blowers already violate the District’s noise laws, which were too difficult to enforce, and contribute to air pollution. During a July public hearing, nearly all of the testimony was in favor of the bill, including local business owners that have already made the switch to battery-powered blowers. If Bowser signs the ban, D.C. will join more than 170 jurisdictions in 31 states that regulate gas-powered leaf blowers, according to a D.C. Council report.

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