Galveston City Council passes ban on balloon releases

Nick Natario Image
Friday, August 13, 2021
States consider limits on balloon releases over pollution concerns
The video above is from a 2019 report on the nationwide push to ban balloon releases. Critics say the helium-filled balloons pollute the environment and threaten birds and other wildlife when they fall to earth.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The intentional releasing of balloons in the city of Galveston has become a violation in accordance with an ordinance that was recently unanimously passed by city council on Thursday.

The video above is from a previous report.

According to the ordinance, violators will 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.

This includes any object made of latex, mylar or other material that can be inflated with a gas lighter than air.

Advocates 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."

The ordinance did list a few exceptions.

Balloons may be released by a person on behalf of a governmental agency or for meteorological purposes like research. Now, this does not mean balloons cannot be released indoors. Those who choose to release balloons inside should "ensure that the balloon or balloons do not escape to the outside," according to the ordinance.

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.

READ PREVIOUS REPORT: Balloon launch ban? More states aim to knock air out of festive balloon releases

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