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Litterers face fines in Delaware after state outlaws releasing balloons into the sky


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Here's some uplifting news for environmentalists: Delawareans can no longer release balloons into the sky, thanks to a bill that Gov. John Carney signed on Friday.

The bill, which lawmakers passed in June, makes it illegal to intentionally release balloons in the First State.

Releasing up to four balloons is considered littering and can mean a fine of $25 or more.

Releasing five or more balloons equals a fine of $250 and up to eight hours of community service for the first offense.

Maryland and Virginia passed similar laws earlier this year.

While Carney has dedicated much of his tenure to a litter-reduction campaign, the bill isn't just to prevent residents from suffering through the sight of scattered festive latex balloon remnants across the state.

The new law is also meant to protect wildlife, according to environmentalists.

"Balloons have long polluted shorelines of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, adding to the plastic pollution that threatens both marine life and the roughly 225,000 jobs in the three states that depend on a clean coast," said Oceana field campaigns manager Caroline Wood in a statement.

Balloon-lovers can still release balloons indoors and won't be penalized if they accidentally release one into the sky, according to the bill.

And don't worry: Delawareans can still throw water balloons as long as they pick up the trash after they pop.

Hot air balloons are also still allowed as long as the balloon is recovered post-launch, according to the bill.

People who were planning to celebrate with a balloon release can visit https://www.preventballoonlitter.org to find other ideas to celebrate in lieu of balloon releases.

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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or sgamard@delawareonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.