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New Maine Law Bans Intentional Release Of Balloons

Balloon Ban
Gerald Herbert
On July 20, 2106, East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputies release balloons at a noon vigil organized by municipal court workers in downtown Baton Rouge, La., in honor of slain and injured sheriff deputies and police. Bills are pending in a growing number of states in 2019 to ban the feel-good tradition of releasing helium-filled balloons at events, since they have the unintended consequence of spoiling the environment and threatening wildlife.

Any future plans to release party balloons into Maine skies have been deflated by a new law. The law classifies clusters of intentionally released balloons as litter - and violators could face steep fines.

The proposal was introduced by Democratic Representative Genevieve McDonald, a commercial fisherman in Stonington. She says discarded balloons are one of the most common types of plastic she and other fishermen see on the water. They have deadly consequences for animals that mistake the balloons for food and either choke or become entangled in attached ribbons. Balloons are the most common marine debris that kills seabirds.

Maine's new law defines balloons as litter, and the release of more than 15 could cost violators a fine of at least $100, and potentially hundreds more depending on the number of balloons involved.

The law goes into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.