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Dallas City Council committee looking into banning certain leaf blowers

Dallas councilmember Paula Blackmon, chair of this committee, started Tuesday's briefing and said the city is specifically looking to ban two-cycle leaf blowers.

DALLAS — A committee with the City of Dallas discussed the possibility of banning certain leaf blowers that run on gas.

The Dallas City Council's Environment and Sustainability Committee held a briefing Tuesday morning to outline the problems gas-powered leaf blowers are having on the environment and why banning them could help Dallas more quickly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Dallas councilmember Paula Blackmon, chair of this committee, started the briefing and said the city is specifically looking to ban two-cycle leaf blowers. That means the equipment's engine requires lubricant (oil) to be mixed with the fuel (gasoline).

"Leaf blowers I don't think are going away," Blackmon said. "It's just we're looking at the two-cycle. Because they do come in four-cycle and they do come in electric."

Four-cycle leaf blowers work similarly to a vehicle's engine, with gas going into a fuel tank and oil going into a crank. These are generally considered to be more fuel-efficient than two-cycle leaf blowers but they are not as powerful.

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

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About one-third of the gasoline that goes into this sort of engine is released unburned in an aerosol mixed with oil in the exhaust, according to data collected provided by the committee.

More than 100 cities have implemented policies, codes and ordinances related to gas-powered landscape equipment, the committee said.

"I think this is a bigger conversation into the types of machines that these types of leaf blowers are," Blackmon said.

Mitch McGowan owns Garland's DOTDIRT Organic Landscapes and has been in the landscape business for more than 30 years.

He was initially working a desk job he decided to shift to this different business.

"I started mowing yards on the side and then I started building flower beds and doing construction," McGowan said. "My enjoyment of it far surpassed being dressed in a suit and tie and traveling."

Credit: Jay Wallis
Mitch McGowan (left) looks over some of the landscape work being done by two of his employees.

McGowan's staff uses some two-cycle leaf blowers when they are clearing up leaves for some of their customers, which he said allows for him to his team to get the job done quicker and more efficiently.

"They're a lot more powerful," McGowan said.

McGowan also said switching to four-cycle or electric will still create be loud around where the work is being done.

"Leaf blowers are going to make noise no matter what because the fans have to go at a certain RPM," McGowan said.

Scott Golub is the owner of Richardson's Clean Air Lawn Care, another lawn care company in North Texas.

He said since became owner about seven years ago, his company has used only electric equipment.

"You have to look long-term," Golub said. "Our customers seek us out because of what we do and how we do it."

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Golub said his vehicles have solar panels on the top of their hoods, which allow his electric leaf blowers and electric trimmers to remain charged throughout the day.

"It's a huge plus for the environment, that's a given," Golub said. "There's no smell. There's no pollution."

While Golub said many people ask him if his approach is expensive, he also said the longer he owns and uses the electric gear—which is initially more expensive—the more it ends up saving him money since he isn't regularly paying for fuel or gas.

"We bought ours like you buy a car," Golub said, speaking about one of his more expensive electric lawnmowers. "We made payments on it, and we paid it off. You just have to look at it as an investment."

McGowan said many of the batteries that would be needed to run lawn care gear don't last long enough for the investment to be worth it.

"You need at least 80 volts, and most only last for about an hour, so you have to have multiple batteries," McGowan said. "These batteries are very expensive."

McGowan also said the less powerful electric leaf blowers will also cause the cleaning process to take longer.

"They still don't have any battery-operated gear that can compare with the commercial leaf blowers, lawnmowers, or any of that equipment," McGowan said.

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

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