East Hampton Trustees Support Ban on Releasing Balloons

East Hampton Town Hall.

The East Hampton Town Trustees on Monday unanimously voted to support a ban on the intentional release of balloons in the town — a measure that supports a broader effort by the Eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for a ban that would stretch across Suffolk County where it is currently legal to intentionally release as many as 25 balloons per person in a 24-hour period.

According to the nonprofit foundation, a total of 774 balloons were found on beaches from Westhampton Beach to Montauk during 38 beach cleanups it held between June of 2017 and December of 2018,

In addition to town trustees in East Hampton, the ban also has the support of a number of environmental groups including the Peconic Baykeeper, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the Group for the East End and the Nature Conservancy, as well as government leaders like Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

On Monday, Trustee Susan McGraw Keber introduced a resolution to town trustees to specifically support a ban on the intentional release of balloons in East Hampton Town, which found support from the entire body. The current county legislation, which prohibits a “person, nonprofit organization, firm, corporation, or municipality” from “knowingly” releasing, organizing the release, condoning the release of, or intentionally causing the release, “within a twenty-hour period, 25 or more helium or lighter-than-air gas balloons within the County of Suffolk.”

“That’s a lot of balloons,” said Ms. McGraw Keber. “It means graduations, birthday parties, weddings. It will not include children who get a balloon at the fair, but this would be for Mylar balloons, latex balloons — they are not biodegradable, they are not recyclable.”