Feb 23, 2022 - News

Georgia bill could protect leaf blowers from regulation

Illustration of a no symbol with a leaf blower for a crossbar.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A new law making its way through the state legislature would prohibit local governments from imposing rules on when people can operate leaf blowers.

Why it matters: Gas-powered leaf blowers are commonly used to maintain properties. However, residents who are fed up with the noise and environmental impacts have pushed for governments to curtail their uses or outright ban them.

  • Atlanta’s noise ordinance prohibits the use of leaf blowers and other landscaping maintenance devices from 8pm to 8am in residential and mixed-use areas. In DeKalb County, they can only be used from 7:01am to 9pm weekdays and 9:10am to 9pm on weekends.
  • Cobb and Gwinnett also have restrictions.

Zoom out: Some places like Washington, D.C., have banned gas-powered leaf blowers and California will phase them out by 2024.

  • Dallas, Texas, is also exploring whether a ban would aid in its plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by 43% in the next eight years.

What they’re saying: The LEAF Act’s chief sponsor, state Rep. Don Hogan of St. Simons Island, said Tuesday during a committee hearing that the bill “is for the working man out there and women who do lawncare work” and prohibits discrimination against gas-powered leaf blowers and other gardening tools.

  • Mary Kay Woodworth, executive director for the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council, said the organization supports the transition from gas to electric-powered blowers, “but at present the technology is not viable for most commercial use.”

The other side: For years, Atlanta resident Peter Bahouth has advocated for banning gas-powered leaf blowers. He tells Axios that he can hear dozens of them running in his neighborhood during certain times of year.

Gas-powered leaf blowers are not only harmful to the environment but are also toxic to workers who breathe in the fumes they expel, Bahouth says. He notes the landscaping industry has been slow to switch to electric powered blowers, even though they are just as powerful.

  • “In the meantime, neighbors are supposed to put up with pollution and noise until you get it together,” Bahouth says.

Bahouth tells Axios that the widespread use of leaf blowers shows that people want “so much control over nature that they can’t stand a leaf on their lawn.”

  • “We’ve given up on the sanctuary of our home and neighborhood for the sanctity of a leaf-free lawn,” Bahouth says.

Kristal’s thought bubble: Today’s kids will never know the joy of jumping on and wrestling in a pile of leaves.


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