New Jersey moves to ban gas powered leaf blowers

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In the latest example of the environmentalist cause going too far, the New Jersey State Senate has voted to move forward with a bill that would ban gas-powered leaf blowers within the next four years.

The original version of the bill states that the use of gas-powered leaf blowers – staple products relied upon by contractors and consumers alike for affordable and accessible lawncare – emit high levels of pollutants. This, the bill alleges, may contribute to acid rain and smog formation. It also claims that noise pollution from the machines is capable of causing hearing loss and that they blow dust and particles during their use.

Proposed by Senator Bob Smith of Middlesex and Sommerset, New Jersey Senate Bill 217 would prohibit the sale of two stroke engine leaf blowers – by far the most common and affordable type of leaf blower – within two years of the bill’s passage and prohibit use of these leaf blowers within four years. In addition, the bill would ban the use and operation of four stroke engines in residential areas. For non-residential areas, their use would be limited to just four months of the year.

Although these limits are watered down from the blanket ban initially proposed, they represent a clear attack upon consumer freedom and place a new burden on both businesses and the general public.

New Jersey’s proposed ban follows in the footsteps of other states and localities that have attempted to limit consumer choice. California banned the sale of all gas-powered leaf blowers as of January 1st, 2024, while many cities throughout the nation, including the District of Columbia, have passed local ordinances to prevent their use. 

Following a warning for the first offense, the bill would impose a fine of $1,000 for infractions regarding the commercial use of these leaf blowers, and a $25 fine for anyone else using the banned blowers.

Rich Goldstein, president of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, explained the problems for companies to  comply with the new law saying, “New Jersey is bombarded with leaves and stuff to clean up. We’re not California, we’re not Florida. We have leaves. The average house in New Jersey, you take away 30 to 50 cubic feet of leaves each fall. That’s a lot of leaves.”

For Goldstein’s company, the new bill would represent the need to replace up to $200,000 worth of gas leaf blowers. He added that it’s more than just the cost of replacement, “It’s retrofitting your truck to be able to charge batteries throughout the day. And by doing that, you’d have to keep your diesel engine running, and that causes another issue. This is just a terrible idea.”

Although electric leaf blowers may be a good choice for some individuals, this should be a personal choice. For example, electric blowers are generally less powerful, and to achieve greater performance, gas-powered models are typically necessary. Additionally, they are largely limited to less than two hours of battery capacity, which makes them unsuitable for those living in wooded areas. These electric leaf blowers also generally come with a warranty of just 80 days, in stark contrast to the standard five-year warranty on gas-powered blowers.

New Jersey’s proposed ban limits the options of consumers and contractors. Once again, government is dictating the choices in the market, and in doing so, preventing individuals and businesses from buying and using leaf blowers that would best meet their needs.