July 2, 2018 Testimony of Catherine Plume, Sierra Club

From the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Hearing on July 2, 2018. testimony of Catherine Plume:

Mendelson: Thank you. Miss Plume?

Plume: Hi, I'm Catherine Plume, a lifelong environmentalist, a board member and conservation chair for the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club. And I'm the DC Recycler and a 20-year resident of Ward 6. 

We support this legislation because we feel that it falls firmly in place with DC's sustainability goals for better air quality, better health for residents, and reduced waste. We support this bill because we feel that the negative impacts of these machines, especially on workers, should be our primary concern. The emissions from these very inefficient gas-powered machines contribute to climate change and health issues, and these are of great concern to the Sierra Club. 

We urge the Council to accept this, or vote in favor of this legislation, especially due to the harmful and invasive noise. For the Sierra Club, this is as much an environmental justice issue as it is an environment issue. Many of the workers who are subjected to this noise are first-generation Americans. Landscaping is an entry-level job in this area, and many of the workers struggle with English. Even assuming they understand the dangers that they're exposing themselves to by performing their jobs using gas leaf blowers, most lack the employment security to be able to ask their employers to provide safer equipment. And the noise from these leaf blowers is a real nuisance, and it has negative health impacts for workers and for residents. 

We are very pleased to learn that several landscaping companies, such as you just heard, have opted out of using these gas-powered leaf blowers. We're happy to hear that their businesses are thriving. The Club would also note that for many, many years people maintained their yards without leaf blowers. There are things called brooms and rakes, and they work very well, especially on many of the DC small yards. I'm amazed in my Ward 6 neighborhood to see people with their postage stamp yards using these leaf blowers. It's absolutely unnecessary. 

We recognize that the battery-powered leaf blower technology is ever evolving, and we're happy to hear about this. We feel that having this ban merged in over time is a good idea. And we feel, as you just heard, that landscaping companies will not suffer in any way because of adopting this new technology. Thank you very much.