⚫ NJ lawmakers have approved a watered-down proposal to ban some leaf blowers

⚫ Landscapers say the move would be detrimental to their businesses

⚫ Fines for businesses would be much higher than fines for residents

New Jersey lawmakers have backed off from proposing an all-out ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.

But a piece of legislation advanced by a Senate committee still aims to strictly limit the use of the tools, and it comes with fines for individuals and businesses that don't comply.

The move comes on the heels of multiple towns implementing their own seasonal or full bans on gas-powered blowers. Should the bill become law in New Jersey, it would allow municipalities to pass stricter rules of their own.

The bill cites gas-powered leaf blowers as a heavy polluter, producing more carbon monoxide in one hour than a vehicle would produce over eight hours. The tool is also associated with health concerns, the bill says — due to the loud sounds emitted while in operation and the particles of pollutants it sends outward.

"When you really look at what this machine does ... it's not normal that we accept it where we live, where our children play," Montclair resident Jessica Stolzberg told the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday.

NJ's leaf blower proposal

Originally, the bill was black and white — it would have blocked the sale of any gas-powered leaf blower after one year and the use of any such tool after four years.

But it was a watered-down version of the proposal that cleared the Senate panel. With the new amendments, after two years, the bill would only prohibit the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers with a two-stroke engine. Sales of the more fuel-efficient four-stroke blowers would still be allowed.


Eventually, four years after the bill's enactment, the use of two-stroke gas-powered blowers would be prohibited, and use of the four-stroke machines would be limited to non-residential areas, during four months of the year (March 15 to May 15, and Oct. 15 to Dec. 15).

Proposed fines

Whether you're a resident or a landscaping company, you'd be given a warning for a first offense. After that, homeowners face a $25 fine for violations, and businesses face a fine of $500 to $1,000.

The original bill called for a fine of up to $1,000 for anyone, even on the first offense.

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Rich Goldstein, president of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, said if landscaping businesses are forced to make the change, it would be detrimental to their companies, their employees, and residents.

To replace their two-stroke blowers alone, he said, the company would have to put out more than $79,000, plus the cost of chargers and additional batteries.

"I can tell you ... from experience, that what can be done in 20 minutes with a gas-powered leaf blower can take up to an hour and two batteries to complete with battery-powered blowers," Goldstein added. "And the price to use them is higher ... thus creating a much higher price for the consumer."

The group called on lawmakers to institute an all-out ban on residents only, to no avail.

Currently, there is no version of the bill in the Assembly. The proposed law would need to pass both houses of the Legislature and receive a signature from the governor in order to become law.

Towns such as Maplewood and Montclair already have year-round bans in place on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Princeton prohibits their use during most of the year.

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