January 1, 2019
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: The mayor and city council of Washington, DC have won a “Quiet Hero” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for passing and signing legislation to ban the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
On December 26, 2018, DC mayor Muriel Bowser signed DC Act 22-538, which amended the District of Columbia Noise Control Act of 1977, to “prohibit the sale and use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in the District of Columbia after January 1, 2022.” The “Leaf Blower Regulation Amendment Ac of 2018” received the unanimous support of the City Council’s “Committee of the Whole.” The law establishes a maximum fine of $500 for violations. Battery-powered leaf blowers (which are much quieter and cleaner) are still allowed.
Mike Lofgren, a former Republican Congressional staffer, recently wrote in The Washington Monthly that “by every reasonable standard, the lawn equipment noise pollution problem meets the common law threshold of a persistent nuisance degrading the quiet enjoyment of one’s property. Every time I have raised the issue with local officials, they agree that the commotion is frequently unbearable.”
Lofgren notes that the US Park Service has banned the two-stroke engine, as have several nations. He calls for states and localities to ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers and for the federal government to establish national standards for quieter, cleaner battery-operated equipment.
Dr. Bonnie Sager, co-founder of Huntington CALM, commented that DC Mayor Bowser “made history on December 26, 2018. By eliminating the year-round use and the sale of gas leaf blowers in Washington, DC, a strong message was sent to other municipalities and the manufacturers of gas leaf blowers.”
Sager asked that “other city councils and legislators recognize the health, environmental, quality of life, and social justice issues involving the use of gas leaf blowers.” While several developing nations have banned two-stroke engines because of excessive pollution, “it is unconscionable that in the United States, our families, pets, and landscapers are subjected on a regular basis to toxic, carcinogenic pollution from gas-powered leaf blowers.”
Sager and Huntington CALM extend their thanks to “Councilwoman Cheh, Council Chair Phil Mendelson, the other council members, the 14 advisory neighborhood commissions, Jim and Deb Fallows, and the many others who made this a reality.”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “Americans are starting to wake up to the reality that gas-powered leaf blowers are dangerously noisy and hyper-polluting. Millions of American neighborhoods are leaf blower hell. While rakes are the ultimate in clean and quiet technology, today’s commercial-grade battery blowers are far preferable to gas-powered equipment. Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is proud to issue this Quiet Hero award in recognition of the District government’s efforts to reduce excessive noise.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to noise pollution. Past winners of the Quiet Hero award include the Portsmouth, New Hampshire police department; the Miami Beach police department; and Newton, Massachusetts, for enacting leaf blower restrictions.;