The Seattle City Council passed a resolution on Sept. 6 in support of the city’s plan to eliminate gas-powered leaf blowers by 2027. The legislation, which is a nonbinding resolution, asks the Mayor’s Office to develop a plan to stop the city and its contractors from using gas-powered leaf blowers by January 2025 and private individuals, businesses and institutions from using the machines by January 2027. The bill does not set a deadline and instead inserts a clause. “or later, if necessary.”

Alex Pedersen (Councilmember) introduced the resolution. He represents the University District and Ravenna, Wallingford and Laurelhurst, as well as other neighborhoods in northeast Seattle. The council unanimously passed it.

The Seattle legislation follows similar initiatives in other states, and municipalities throughout the United States. In 2021 California’s state legislature passed a lawGas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers to be banned by 2024 Another ban in Washington, D.C.Earlier this year,., was in effect.

Behind every local initiative is an activist group Quiet Clean SeattleThe Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about noise pollution and air quality impacts of gas-powered leaf brooms.

Peri Hartman, founder of the group, stated that electric leaf blowers are now more efficient than gas-powered models. Hartman said he has found an electric leaf blower that is powerful enough to handle the most demanding tasks, such as blowing wet leaves. Hartman spent a lot of time researching new models.

He also stated that in Santa Cruz, an environmental group discovered that switching to fossil fuels could reduce operating costs by as much as 80% within a period of 10 months. 

“Electricity is incredibly cheap compared to gasoline, and the labor to maintain the gas engine is substantial, whereas there is zero-to-no labor to maintain an electric motor and battery,”Hartman stated. “Plug it in the charger at night and in the morning you throw them in your bag and you get going. That’s it; nothing else to do.”

Quiet Clean Seattle also worries about the potential dangers that gas-powered leaf brooms could pose to landscape maintenance workers. Gas leaf blowers can reach 100 decibels and produce toxic fumes. One study found that gas leaf blowers emit toxic fumes for up to an hour. Air pollution equivalent to 1,100 milesA 2016 Toyota Camry.

Advocates also claimed that gas blowers adversely affect Latino landscape workers. According to The Bureau of Labor StatisticsHispanics or Latinos made up approximately 47.1 per cent of American landscape and groundskeeping workers by 2021, while they make up about 18 percent overall.

While momentum is behind proponents of the gas leaf blower ban, since the legislation is nonbinding, it will be ultimately up to the Mayor’s Office to decide how or whether to implement it.

Guy Oron, Real Change’s staff reporter, is Guy Oron. Follow them on twitter. @GuyOron.

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