No more balloon releases in Galveston? City considering a ban

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The tradition of releasing balloons at weddings, birthdays and memorials may soon get deflated in the city of Galveston.

On Thursday, the Galveston City Council took a look at a draft of an ordinance that would ban balloon releases in the city.

The ordinance isn't final, but if it were to pass, violators could be fined up to $200.

"Discarded balloons can last indefinitely and create an aesthetic blight and hazard to wildlife and the environment," read the ordinance.

Critics say the helium-filled balloons pollute the environment and threaten birds and other wildlife when they fall to earth.

"Galveston Island is a breeding ground for several endangered species of sea turtles including the Kemp Ridley turtle," the ordinance reads. "The material of balloons that do not completely biodegrade or photodegrade in the environment are often stuck in trees, shrubs, can clog drainage systems, pollute the marine and coastal environment and additionally are often mistaken for food by marine and other wildlife, causing disastrous effects on marine and animal systems."

Nationwide, the growing awareness of the problem energized legislation in state governments.

In 2019, bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons were aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The next Galveston City Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 12.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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