Resources for Teachers and Students
FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 24, 2022
Share two facts from coverage of another topic with environmental impact.
Summarize news about elected officials in your city or state.
Look for an effort to influence public policy. What's the issue?
A law that took effect this month in the District of Columbia earns attention beyond its 68 square miles. Gas-powered leaf blowers can't be sold or used there anymore under a ban passed in 2018 by council members. (Quieter, environmental-friendlier electric ones remain legal.) This "change on the local level [has] significant, positive implications for other parts of the country and beyond," prominent author and journalist James Fallows posted last week at his Substack blog. "These devices are the most polluting form of machinery still in legal use."
They'll also be banned in California in 2024 under a law the governor signed last October, which also prohibits gas-fueled mowers, weed trimmers, chain saws and even golf carts. These are the main arguments against the old-school equipment:
These nasty machines, available in backpack-style designs, persist in American landscaping because they are cheap. But battery-powered equipment and rakes are safer alternatives, advocates say. "Someday soon, people will look back in disapproving wonder on the several-decade toleration of these two-stroke nuisances," writes Fallows, who lives in Washington, D.C., and has crusaded against gas blowers for years.
Crusader says: "The change will be gradual, then sudden—like the use of seatbelts in cars, or restrictions on second-hand smoke and then smoking itself." – James Fallows, blogger and journalist
U.S. agency says: "Laborers in the landscape industry frequently operate these devices for extended periods, thus exposing themselves to high concentrations of exhaust gases over a prolonged period." – Environmental Protection Agency, 2000 report
Columnist says: "They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. . . . Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry." – Margaret Renkl, The New York Times last October
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