I watched the Southampton Village Board meeting of January 25 with great interest and was heartened to learn that the question of gas-powered leaf blowers is front and center on the minds of our village trustees.
At that meeting, it was announced that a task force is being formed to study the issue. Closed to the public, it will have members representing “both sides” in hopes of finding solutions that all can agree on.
I hope that the board will add, to its list of participating landscapers, at least one who is knowledgeable about best practices for promoting environmentally friendly goals. Tax credits, tutorials or grants to help landscapers make the switch to electric should be explored.
I have great respect for our local business community, including the landscapers making their living here. They certainly can’t be blamed for using gas-powered leaf blowers, which revolutionized the speed and efficiency of yard maintenance.
A petition signed by 50 village residents was recently submitted to the village asking that gas-powered leaf blowers be banned. The idea, sometimes floated, of a compromise that might involve lengthening the window of the ban would not, in the view of many of us, be a good solution, as it would not substantially change the amount of overall emissions, but would, rather, concentrate their release in a more compressed time frame.
The science is settled: Two-stroke gasoline engines, simpler than today’s four-stroke car engines, are vastly less fuel efficient and produce emissions that are off the charts. For that reason, their use is already being widely phased out worldwide. In addition to the environmental harm they cause, they carry significant health hazards for the workers carrying them. And the continuous loud whining they produce wherever they are in use, which is everywhere in the village, is enough to drive anyone to distraction.
In short, many of us feel there is more than enough information about the harmful environmental, health, and quality-of-life consequences of these machines to move ahead with public hearings, followed by action from the Village Board.
I hope that the board’s ultimate decision will reflect the spirit of the Declaration of Climate Emergency adopted by that very body last year, which states that “the Village Board is committing to make climate mitigation and the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions a guiding principle and objective.”
Why not take this opportunity to wholeheartedly explore the ways in which we can become a model village?
One fine body…