Legislation introduced to phase-out harmful gasoline fueled leaf blowers from city government by 2025 and rest of Seattle by 2027
Seattle – Today Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4, Northeast Seattle) introduced legislation aiming to sunset harmful gas-powered leaf blowers in Seattle to protect workers, reduce noise, and improve the environment. Specifically, Resolution 32064 calls for the phasing-out of harmful gas-powered leaf blowers from city government by 2025 and the rest of Seattle by 2027.
“Nearly everyone hates obnoxious, loud, gas-belching leaf blowers, so why do we allow them to continue damaging eardrums, spraying debris into faces, and polluting our city?” asked Councilmember Pedersen. “Other cities are banning or phasing out leaf blowers and it’s time to blow them out of Seattle, too. While public safety and homelessness must continue as priority issues, City Hall has the bandwidth to address this public health and environmental issue, too. While it was reasonable for Seattle to pause work on this issue during the pandemic, other places across the nation have recently been leap-frogging Seattle by banning these harmful devices, including Washington, D.C.; Burlington, Vermont; the entire state of California; and 100 other jurisdictions.”
Nicole Grant, Executive Director of 350 Seattle, a grass roots environmental and climate justice organization building momentum for healthy alternatives to fossil fuels, said, “Gas powered leaf blowers are contrary to our values — they use fossil fuels and are unwelcoming with their excessive noise and toxic emissions. We are pleased that Councilmember Pedersen is proposing a sound process for the City to transition away from these unnecessary machines.”
D.C. Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment with the Council of the District of Columbia said, “In 2018, the District passed legislation I introduced that banned the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers as of January 1, 2022. Since that legislation was implemented earlier this year, it’s greatly improved the quality of life in the District, not only reducing the harmful noise produced by these devices, but also improving air quality. Given these benefits, I am in support of efforts in the largest city in ‘the other Washington’ to pass similar legislation, and hope that the District’s law can be a model for Seattle and jurisdictions across the country.”
Peri Hartman, co-founder of the group Quiet Clean Seattle: “Our cofounders have been working to eliminate use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Seattle for several years. We are very pleased to see Councilmember Pedersen’s proposal move to the Council, an exciting step so desired by our members.”
Catherine Plume, a lifelong environmentalist and a community leader who advocated for the law in Washington D.C. said, “After showing how the transition from gas powered to electric leaf blowers would not be harmful to local businesses, and would reduce health risks to landscape workers while improving the quality of life and air for all District residents, our council passed a law in 2019 that led to the banning of gas power machines at the beginning this year. I hope other US cities including Seattle will follow the same path. It’s a win for landscape workers, residents, and the environment!”
During its budget review process in November 2021, the City Council adopted a Statement of Legislative Intent asking City departments by September 2, 2022 to “develop a plan to phase out the use of all gas-powered leaf blowers in Seattle within two years. Following implementation of the two-year plan, the goal would be for the City to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.” Today’s Resolution reinforces the Council’s intent to phase out noxious gasoline-fueled leaf blowers in Seattle to reduce public health harms to landscape workers, the general public, and the environment.
Today’s Resolution states, “The City recognizes that the use of gas-powered leaf blowers causes significant adverse environmental and health impacts, including noise and air pollution” and asks City departments to “develop a proposal that would phase out and ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers within Seattle.”
Regarding the timeframe, the Resolution states, “By January 2025…the City and its contractors will phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. By January 2027…institutions located in Seattle, businesses operating in Seattle, and Seattle residents will phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.”
The Resolution seeks to explore whether the City should offer incentives, such as a buyback program or rebates on replacement purchases, to landscaping businesses that operate in Seattle and to low-income Seattle residents that need support to transition from gas-powered to electric-powered leaf blowers.
Recent data have revealed more of the environmental and public health impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers; the quality of their sound is more harmful than electric leaf blowers. Gas-powered leaf blowers most commonly have two-stroke internal combustion engines that incompletely combust their fuel, resulting in the emission of toxins and carcinogens, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Gas-powered machines cause significant adverse individual and public health impacts.
At the same time, the technology of electric-powered devices has greatly improved. Landscaping businesses are learning that they can do the same work with far less impact on workers and neighbors.
The issue of phasing out gasoline-fueled leaf blowers is on the official work program of the Council’s Sustainability & Renters Rights Committee, which will hear the Resolution on Friday, August 19 at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, see Councilmember Pedersen’s blog.
(Note: A team of 2nd year graduate students earning their master’s in public administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance assisted in the research of this topic for Councilmember Pedersen’s office.)
More Information about Harmful Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers:
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