Climate action is a big topic for politicians in St. Paul. However, the city is behind in one policy area: allowing the sale and usage of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Washington, D.C., implemented a ban against gas-powered leaf blowers in 2022. The ban was approved by D.C. City Council back in 2018. “It’s time to phase out the use of these noisy, polluting leaf blowers,” Mary Cheh, D.C. Councilmember was quoted upon the council’s approval of the bill in 2018.
It is time. More areas are realizing this. Last December, regulators from the state of California voters approve banIn 2024, the sale of gas powered landscaping equipment, including leaf-blowers, will begin. In the same month, county commissioners in Multnomah County — home to Portland, OR. — also A plan was passed to phase outThe use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
However, St. Paul has been quite quiet. The city does not have any restrictions on leaf blower use, aside from a noise-related ban that prohibits the use of these ear-splitting devices between 10 p.m. & 7 a.m. These machines are powerful emitters of carbon and other harmful toxins. The city is making a grave mistake by failing to ban and phase out gas-powered leaf blowers.
St. Paul has committed that they will reach carbon neutrality by 2050. They’ve Considered big policy movesTo get there, large investments in green infrastructure and public transit are necessary. But the city’s environmental efforts seem to have mistakenly ignored gas-powered leaf blowers. Leaf blowers and other gas powered lawn mowers are common across the country. tools Create12% of all carbon dioxide emissions. A few years back, the California Air Resources BoardAccording to projections, 2020 will see gas-powered leaf-blowers and similar lawn equipment emit more ozone pollution that all other cars in the state. Leaf blowers are high capacity carbon-spewing machines.
Handheld leaf blowers can be particularly dangerous for the user, as they release toxins from their engines. Reports FromThe Environmental Protection Agency found that a gas-powered lawn is more effective than a grass-powered one. gardenEquipment, including leaf blowers can release dangerous particulate matter as well as volatile organic compounds. These include benzene, acetaldehyde, and acetaldehyde.
“If we’re using [leaf blowers] for a long time, cause you’re right over top of it, you can tell. You can get headaches and that kind of thing,”Michael Frazier, Macalester’s chief grounds person, said.
These toxins released by these machines’ small engines lead to long-term health problems. Sources say that these toxins are a long-term problem for health. These are the opinions of anti-leaf blower supportersThe toxins in Portland, Oregon expose workers to carcinogenic toxins and can cause respiratory problems. They can also cause hearing damage. Workers being allowed to use poisonous machines is against any claim of worker safety and protection.
The solution is electric-powered equipment. This reduces the carbon emissions, toxic fumes and excessive noise. In the summer of 2020, Macalester’s grounds crew took advantage of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grantsTo replace approximately half their lawn equipment with electric-powered ones. The grant paid half of the cost for new electric equipment tools.
As Macalester has learned, moving to electric leaf-blowers isn’t a perfect option; some trade-offs are involved.
“The only fallback is the power. Most of the stuff is fine, but it’s the backpack blower that kind of suffers. It just doesn’t have the power that the gas does,” Frazier said. But this isn’t a permanent state of affairs: “With that being said, it’s early, too. This stuff is all pretty new to us, and new to the industry.”
This technology will only improve. As Atlantic journalist James Fallows reportsOver the past two decades, battery technology has improved steadily.
As the market for leaf blowers with clean blades grows, this trend should continue.
Every investment in electrifying leaves blowers will make significant progress in reducing emissions in our city. However, waiting for private actors to make sufficient transitions on their own, is a fool’s task. Private landscaping companies will electrify their clients’ yards because the cost of switching to electric leaf-blowers upfront can be prohibitive and may make it less efficient for yard work. toolsToo slowly. Under the pressures of the marketplace, it will be hard for landscapers and yard workers to bear the costs of electrification while their competitors don’t have to.
This is where St. Paul’s influence can be significant. We should follow the example of other jurisdictions and eliminate leaf blowers. This can be a sensible and uncontroversial policy. We don’t need an immediate ban — we can do as other jurisdictions have, and give yard workers time to switch their equipment. We don’t have to force companies to bear all the costs of this change, which generates publicly shared benefits — we can maintain the Minnesota state grant program that Macalester utilized, which has More than 100 companies have been helpedTransition to electric lawn mowers