July 2, 2018 Testimony of Charles "Chuck" Elkins, ANC Commissioner

From the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Hearing on July 2, 2018. testimony of Charles "Chuck" Elkins, elected ANC commissioner and former EPA official:

Mendelson: Thank you, Mr. Mustico. Commissioner Elkins?

Elkins: Mr. Chairman, I'm Chuck Elkins, Vice-Chair of ANC3D. In my former life at EPA, I served as Director of both the Noise Control Program on the Federal level, and the Federal Air Pollution Control Program. 

I want to assure you, as you have already heard, that this is not just a Ward 3 problem. We have 12 advisory commissions’ [supporting resolutions from] across the city, and in seven wards, 46 neighborhoods. And, as you know, ANCs do not suffer fools easily. They don't put their names on resolutions unless they understand them and approve them. So this is not just a few residents in Ward 3 who are concerned about this.  [NOTE: The written testimony that contains the 12 ANC resolutions can be viewed HERE.]

I'd like to spend the rest of my time addressing some of the concerns we've heard here, this afternoon. One we just heard is that this should be a market-based approach. I think it has been market based. This gentleman's industry has produced battery-powered blowers, and they are quieter, and now we have the scientific evidence that you heard earlier this afternoon that in fact this bill is directly targeted at the technology that needs to be banned, because all of these gas blowers are noisier than the battery ones in ways that the measurements from the industry do not show. So, this bill turns out to be very focused in the right way on technology.  Changing behavior is good, but it's not the solution where we can have a technology solution. 

I'd like, finally, to address the points made by Mr. Mann this afternoon on behalf of the lawn maintenance industry. I think none of us are against the industry. He asked for a middle ground, and I think that's exactly what this bill does.  It's a middle ground because it's targeted only at gas-powered blowers, so the industry will still have excellent blowers to use. It's based on the scientific basis I just described. So,

•    It's a middle ground for the lawn maintenance companies. They can continue to do business, as you heard from a couple of operators. And there are 140 others across the country. They can do this business and make money. 
•    Secondly, it's great for the workers because of the hearing loss, and
•    It's great for the neighbors. 

And I want to suggest to the lawn maintenance industry that they adopt a new motto. It would be, "It's better to be seen rather than heard." Wouldn't it be great to look forward in this city, in the future, to when people will walk out of their houses and say, "Oh, the lawn maintenance people have been here! It's beautiful. But, you know, I didn't hear them!" 

That is the future that I hope the lawn maintenance industry can move to. It's a direction that the industry is producing equipment so that they can do that. And I think now is the time for DC to join the other 120 communities across this country to bring in the 21st-century technology. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.