Proposed ban of releasing balloons angers Balloon Council

AP News
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Posted: Jun 15, 2017 12:16 PM

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey balloon lobby is pushing back against a proposed ban on intentionally releasing helium-filled balloons into the state's skies that supporters of the ban say pose a deadly threat to birds and other animals and hazards to power lines.

The Trenton-based Balloon Council plans to meet with the bill's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan, to persuade him to drop the measure. Whelan has said he is willing to meet with the council.

The lobbying group stopped a previous version of the bill three decades ago and spent over $1 million in the past five years lobbying against balloon regulations nationwide, NorthJersey.com (https://njersy.co/2t3RKme ) reported.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says balloons pose a danger to animals, and includes on its website photos of birds and a turtle that have died after choking or being strangled by balloon pieces and strings.

Critics of balloon releases include environmentalists and energy companies. PSE&G warns customers that balloons can cause power outages when they hit electric lines.

The public relations firm Princeton Public Affairs Group is leading the balloon council's current push.

Dale Florio, a lawyer for the firm, says a ban would undercut mom and pop businesses.

"It creates a negative narrative about balloons, which is unfounded," Florio said.

Whelan introduced the bill in May following a nationwide effort to end balloon releases. The legislation proposes a $500 fine on violations. Similar bans have been enacted in municipal communities along the Jersey Shore.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com