Planned Balloon Releases Are Now Illegal In Md.

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Planned balloon releases are now against the law in Maryland. The ban officially takes effect today.

Anyone who is 13 or older is prohibited from intentionally releasing balloons or organizing or participating in a mass release of ten or more balloons.

“In Maryland it’s now illegal to be a plastic balloon litterbug and that’s good news for our land, water, and wildlife,” Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said. “With the rising tide of plastic pollution, this new law is an important and timely step for the health of our Chesapeake Bay, coast, and ocean.”

“Balloons can be a great way to commemorate a special occasion, but when they are intentionally released into the air, they can harm and kill livestock and wildlife. They can also cause electric outages when caught in power lines,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio added. “The key is to find other ways to celebrate or honor a loved one or if you have balloons, be sure to ‘pop them and drop them’ in the trash rather than releasing them into the air on purpose.”

Maryland DNR indicated that there are exceptions:

The law does not apply to a balloon that is released for meteorological or scientific purposes on behalf of a state or federal agency or in accordance with a contract with an agency, or by an institution of higher education conducting research. It also does not apply to: a balloon that is attached to a radio tracking device and released by a person who holds an amateur operator license issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission; a hot air balloon that is recovered after launch; or the negligent or unintentional release of a balloon.

A person who violates the law may be subject to penalties of up to $100 per violation, community service, or watching a video about environmental pollution. MDE is charged with enforcing the law, but may delegate enforcement to local governments.

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