This proposed NYC law will require warning labels on mylar balloons; here’s why
CITY HALL – Balloons made of foil and other metallic materials can wreak havoc on nearby power lines, but a new New York law aims to change that.
Last February, a set of the balloons, also known as Mylar balloons, made contact with power lines in New Brighton, leaving 500 homes without power. Another incident in 2015 left more than 100 homes in Stapleton without power.
Consolidated Edison even had to share social media posts warning of the risks of electrically conductive balloons for power lines, urging people to stop them from floating away.
“Mylar balloons may be festive, but did you know they can cause power outages if they get tangled in wires?” the utility wrote on Instagram ahead of the July 4 holiday. “Be sure to attach a weight to them to keep them on the ground.”
A trio of New York City lawmakers — Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), Councilwoman Amanda Farias (D-the Bronx) and Councilman Shaun Abreu (D-Manhattan) — introduced legislation Jan. 19 that would require retailers to do so to label the balloons with warnings about their risks to power lines and the identity of the retailer.
Sellers would also need to provide an item heavy enough to keep the balloons from flying away. A retailer that fails to comply with the new requirements could face fines of up to $2,000 per day.
Presenting the bill to City Council, Holden said the balloons had caused power outages in his district and that the balloons needed a consumer warning. At least one of his colleagues, Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore), is not on board.
“I will spend exactly zero minutes of my taxpayer-funded time weighing the merits of banning balloons for children’s birthday parties,” he said. “Consider me a ‘no’ on the bill.”
Marci Bishop, chief of staff to Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore), said the councilwoman is considering the legislation but declined to comment further.
Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island) also said he was considering the legislation.
“As with any proposed legislation, I will maintain an open mind and weigh the facts as to whether the materials in these balloons pose a significant hazard to the city’s power grid,” he said. “But to this point I have had no complaints about balloons hitting electrical lines, and I’m always reluctant to support legislation that puts more burdens on our small businesses.”
If the council votes to label the balloons, it won’t be the first legislature in the US to crack down on them, nor would their legislation be the strictest.
The San Diego Tribune reported in September that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to ban electrically conductive balloons by 2027 after that state’s lawmakers passed legislation.
The New York state legislature also has two bills aimed at curbing Mylar balloons.
Earlier this month, Rep. Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn) introduced legislation that would ban the sale of electrically conductive balloons and State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-Suffolk) introduced a bill that would ban the release of balloons outdoors, except for hot air balloons and those used for government experiments.
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