N.J. bill sets hefty fine for intentionally releasing, tethering balloons

The pending bill cites balloons as a danger to wildlife and marine animals who mistake them as food or become entangled in the string. (Wikimedia commons)

The pending bill cites balloons as a danger to wildlife and marine animals who mistake them as food or become entangled in the string. (Wikimedia commons)

Planning on releasing or tethering a balloon in New Jersey? If one bill becomes law, that could cost you.

A measure introduced in late June in the state Assembly prohibits the intentional release of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases and other floating devices and intentionally leaving tethered balloons unattended.

The bill cites balloons, sky lanterns, and similar floating devices as a danger to wildlife and marine animals who mistake them as food or become entangled in the string.

Atlantic City, Bradley Beach, Brigantine, Cape May, and other Jersey Shore municipalities have already banned the release of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases. But the legislation notes that a statewide approach “is the most effective means to significantly reduce the debris from these devices and the environmental harm and safety risks the debris causes.”

The bill exempts the intentional release or tethering of balloons used for scientific purposes, as well as hot air balloons and parade balloons.

Violators would face a penalty of $1,000 for each offense of intentionally releasing a balloon and $2,000 for each offense of tethering a balloon or other floating device.

Environmentalists said the ban will help reduce trash and better protect marine life in New Jersey, where the advocacy group Clean Ocean Action reported a sharp increase in balloons collected during beach sweeps in 2018.

Balloons Blow, an organization that advocates for prohibiting balloon releases, says several jurisdictions in the country have similar laws banning the activity.

The organization provides a variety of alternatives here.

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