Callum Hill via Unsplash

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City of Dallas staffers considering a ban on certain gas-powered lawn equipment are getting some blowback from the local green industry.

The proposed moratorium on leaf blowers comes not necessarily because the machines sounds like a she-devil giving birth in an echo chamber, but because they are detrimental to people’s health, according to councilors on the City’s new Environment and Sustainability Committee.

At a Tuesday briefing, members pointed to research showing high levels of environmental pollution associated with the equipment.

“When you wake up at 3 o’clock and your son can’t breathe, it’s a public health situation,” councilwoman Paula Blackmon said. She added that banning them could help Dallas more quickly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we want to decrease our greenhouse gases by 43% in eight years, we can’t nibble around the edges,” she said. “We have to actually look at something that changes what our air quality is in North Texas.”

Many other cities have implemented restrictions on gas powered leaf blowers. But some small business owners say a ban could hurt their bottom line or even put them out of the moving-around-leaves-and-dirt game altogether.

Some local landscapers and lawn care professionals have reported that the alternative, four-cycle or electric blowers, are prohibitively more expensive.

Electric-powered equipment can average three times the cost of gas-powered equivalents, notes literature presented at the meeting.

Opponents of the ban add that the electric-powered equivalent is not as effective or efficient.

The Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA), which represents more than 1,400 member companies, has asked the City to relent, noting that such a ban would harm businesses in the local green industry, many of which are owned by and employ people of color.

“In light of ongoing labor shortages and supply chain issues, we urge the City of Dallas to avoid creating new regulations to hurt small and minority-owned businesses. Any proposed ban on gas-powered lawn equipment would create government policy before adequate technology exists. The simple reality is electric-powered lawn equipment available for commercial operations costs more, does less, and functions for shorter periods of time,” said TNLA’s president and CEO Amy Graham.

She goes on to suggest that the industry’s benefits outweigh any damage caused by the gas blowers.

“The Texas green industry is the primary driver in growing and improving urban green spaces to increase carbon recapture, filter air, and tackle urban heat islands. Our industry’s products and services are the key to fighting climate change. TNLA’s hope is the city council will plan on taking significant industry stakeholder input concerning these proposals and avoid harming these local businesses.”

The TNLA points to a study by Texas A&M University, which showed the Texas green industry had over $3.8 billion in total sales in the Dallas MSA in 2020. Additionally, with over 57,000 jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area the green industry has an over $6.6 billion-dollar economic output into the local economy.

To watch the full briefing from the Dallas City Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee, you can click here.