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Your Opinion: Enact total ban on outdoor burning

Your Opinion: Enact total ban on outdoor burning

November 25th, 2012 by William D. Steinmeier, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Nothing says "autumn" like gray ashes falling on one's head and clothing, out of the sky, coming from a neighbor's "legal" burning of leaves on their property. What could enhance the enjoyment of an unseasonably warm November day like a fog of thick, rancid smoke surrounding one's deck and yard from a neighbor's burning leaf pile?

I have argued in favor of an outright ban on outdoor burning for many years now. In 2007, Jefferson City voters at least refused to increase permissible public pollution from the burning of yard waste. More recently, we banned the private and personal use of tobacco products indoors in privately-owned businesses, such as restaurants and bars. Yet, we still allow the creation of dangerous pollution from the open burning of yard waste. It is time for this to change.

Now, just in time for Thanksgiving, my wife's left eye is swollen half-shut from poison ivy that she could only have contracted from the smoke inflicted by a neighbor's leaf burning last weekend, as she stood on our deck. In the same way, my now-adult daughter contracted poison ivy from burning leaves years ago when I took her for a walk that brought us in contact with the smoke from a neighbor's burning leaves. I am infuriated not only by the neighbor's rudeness, but by a City Council that permits this activity to go on.

In 2006, Jefferson City's government did excellent work in studying this issue. Their research clearly showed that open burning causes and aggravates respiratory ailments, like allergies and asthma, and burning poison ivy can spread poison ivy in the smoke. Open burning also deprives people of the use and enjoyment of their own property. Open burning is a public nuisance.

If our neighbors have the right to burn their yard waste, we should not have to pay the taxes that pay for a city organic waste site. On the other hand, if we agree that city tax dollars are appropriately applied to the maintenance and operation of a public yard-waste disposal site, then we should finally and belatedly enact an absolute ban on the public pollution caused by open burning of yard waste.

Please let your City Council member know now that you want the open burning of yard waste banned, year-round, in Jefferson City.