A proposed ban on intentionally releasing helium-filled balloons into the skies of New Jersey has angered a powerful local balloon lobby.
The Trenton-based Balloon Council says they plan to meet with the bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan, to persuade him to drop the measure.
NorthJersey.com reports 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.
Whelan introduced the bill in May, and said he would meet with the group.
The legislation says the release of balloons with lighter-than-air gases “poses a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals,” citing severe injury or death if animals ingest them or become entangled in strings.
A person or entity caught would face a $500 fine for each offense, the bill says, adding that a multiple balloon release would count as one violation.
Similar bans have been enacted in a handful of municipal communities along the Jersey Shore, including Margate, Longport, Ventnor, and Atlantic City. But the bill says a statewide approach is necessary because balloons can travel long distances.