It seems that I’ve joined the band of eco-activists in my town in asking our City Council to look into the
banning of all gas-powered leaf-blowers, as evidenced by my name at the end of this letter of request [pdf].
Readers here are super-familiar with the air and noise pollution caused by the much-hated leaf-blowers, not to mention gas lawnmowers, which I suppose might be the next target of our cabal. But sticking with leaf-blowers for the moment, is hating them enough to ban them outright? Let’s see if there are any unintended consequences of such a ban.
Happily, this is a great time to look into this issue because the EPA recently passed some emission standards for the damn things, which standards go into effect in 2011. Presumably people will experience the economic hardship of having to buy cleaner leaf-blowers by 2011 anyway, so if towns go farther and ban all gas-powered types, people can just switch to electric instead, right? Uh, we wish. Everyone’s telling me that there ARE no electrically-powered leaf blowers with enough power to do the job, yet.
So it looks like people have to give up power equipment altogether and switch to rakes and blooms, which seems like a good thing. But according to press reports of anti-blower battles in California, requiring the use of rakes and brooms has at least two downside effects:
- It takes longer to do the work without power equipment, so our small, local landscape companies will suffer – along with their low-income workers – if they’re unable to can’t pass the extra cost on to their customers.
- The use of rakes and brooms is more physically stressful and injury-producing than the use of power blowers, which allow the worker to remain upright at all times.
HOMEOWNERS or COMMERCIAL AND GOV’T WORKERS
Now when it comes to homeowners collecting their own leaves or
clearing their sidewalks of debris, so what if it takes a little longer or if they have to take a break or two because raking
and sweeping require bending over? And as for forcing them to buy new equipment, they’d have to upgrade by 2011 anyway, so why not just outlaw gas-powered by that date?
But when it comes landscape companies and the city maintenance crews – people who spend 8-hour days doing this work, after all – that’s a different story. So one compromise that’s been suggested – to ban gas-powered leaf-blowers only on weekends – seems like a good one to me, at least until the industry produces electric blowers that can replace the gas machines. Funny, though – I notice that Westchester County, NY has imposed the burden ONLY on landscape companies and government workers. That may be because it’s easier to enforce the law against those users but it just seems ass-backwards to me.
But what do you guys think?
HELP! WHAT HAVE OTHER CITIES DONE?
Now the real reason for this post is that I seem to have volunteered to research what other jurisdictions have done in this arena and I’m thinking that some nonprofit MUST have compiled this information already, right? So which one? Seriously; I need some help here.
Photo source: Westchestergov.com.