The Next Target in Portland’s War on Pollution? Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

The city hopes to replace 300 gas guzzlers with electric models next year.

(Wesley Lapointe)

The city of Portland hopes to take 300 city-owned, gas-powered leaf blowers offline by Jan. 1, 2021.

Parks Commissioner Nick Fish will introduce a resolution Dec. 4 to snuff the hand-held versions of the world's most annoying appliance and convert to battery-powered blowers. (When technology permits, the city will also switch to larger backpack models.)

The rationale? Gas-powered blowers are four times louder than electric ones, advocates say, and emit tiny, toxic hydrocarbon molecules that are bad for the environment and the public's health.

It's the latest ban by a city that has proudly put the kibosh on plastic foam takeout containers, plastic bags and single-use plastic straws.

This effort might not be as controversial: The city isn't telling private businesses what to do—at least not yet. "We will also begin a working group next year to consider an equitable, citywide transition in the future," says Asena Lawrence, a Fish staffer.

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