Lawmakers in Queen Anne's County, Maryland approved a new ordinance that will fine anybody who intentionally releases balloons into the air. When the balloons are released into the sky, they do not float up into outer space. Instead, they travel wherever the wind blows them and cause significant harm when they finally land on the ground.
"Deflated mylar and latex balloons, and the ribbons attached to them harm the environment by maiming and killing wildlife, sea creatures, and farm animals. The balloons are often mistaken for food, and marine animals especially, such as turtles and birds, become tangled in the ribbons and are killed," said Jay Falstad, Queen Anne's Conservation Association's Executive Director.
The new ordinance will not outlaw balloons in the county, but will fine anybody $250 who intentionally releases them into the sky.
"If you want to have balloons out at your kid's birthday party or you want to have them at a wedding, get them," the bill's author, Commissioner Christopher M. Corchiarino, explained. "Tie them securely and then dispose of them properly when you're done."
While lawmakers hope their ordinance will deter pollution, it is unclear how much of an impact the law will have because the balloons can travel hundreds of miles after they are released. One farmer reported finding balloons from the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, which is over 500 miles away.
"Intentionally releasing balloons into the atmosphere is nothing short of littering," Corchiarino said. "This ordinance will allow us to protect a cross-section of interests in the County while furthering the stewardship of our waterways and rural landscapes."
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