California to ban lawn mowers and leaf blowers

California will ban the sale of new lawn mowers, leaf blowers and gasoline chainsaws as early as 2024 under a new law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday.

The law requires all newly sold small engine equipment primarily used in landscaping to be zero-emission – mostly battery-powered or plug-in – by that target date or as soon as the California Air Resources Board has determined it is feasible. . The new portable gas-powered generators are also due to be zero emissions by 2028, which could also be delayed at the discretion of the state agency.

Machines with so-called small all-terrain engines also include chainsaws, string trimmers, and golf carts, which create as much smog-causing pollution in California as light passenger cars do, and the reduction of these. emissions is essential for improving air quality. and the fight against climate change, supporters of the law said.

“It’s amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes and how many smog-forming and climate-changing emissions a small off-road engine equipment creates,” said MP Marc Berman. (D-Menlo Park), author of the legislation. “This is a fairly modest approach in trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution this equipment emits, not to mention the impact on the health of the workers who use it constantly.”

Berman said the state had set aside $ 30 million to help landscapers and professional gardeners switch from gasoline-powered equipment to zero-emission equipment, but an industry representative said it was was woefully insufficient for the estimated 50,000 small businesses that will be affected by the law. .

Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Assn. of Landscape Professionals, said the zero-emission commercial-grade equipment used by landscapers is also prohibitively expensive and less efficient than existing lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other small gasoline-powered machines. For example, a gasoline-powered commercial lawn mower costs $ 7,000 to $ 11,000, but its zero-emission equivalent costs more than double that amount, he said.

Another major expense will be the batteries. Bray said a three-person landscaping team will need to carry 30 to 40 fully charged batteries to power their equipment for a full day of work.

“These companies are going to have to completely renovate all of their workshops to be able to handle this massive change in voltage, so they are going to be recharged every day,” Bray said.

Berman said the shift to zero-emission landscaping equipment is already underway, especially among the vast majority of homeowners who can mow their lawns and trim hedges on a single battery charge. Cities and universities have also started to transition, he said. Berman also pointed out that gasoline-powered equipment purchased before the deadline can still be used, both by property owners and professional landscapers.

The legislation has encountered opposition from Republican lawmakers, as well as some Democrats, who have expressed concern about residents of rural areas – especially over the state’s requirement that generators laptops must be zero emission.

In recent years, California has experienced widespread blackouts at the height of wildfire season when high winds sweep the state, mainly because utilities try to prevent a failed power line from tripping. a fire. For this reason, Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) said the ban on gasoline generators made no sense.

“This legislature hates fuel, which is very durable. It’s easy to get to. And when the power is off, you can still use it. You can still run a generator to run your freezer, to run your medical devices. But when your battery is dead and there is no power, you have nothing, ”Dahle said.

Berman said these concerns are being addressed and the law specifically requires the California Air Resources Board to adjust restrictions on generators based on their “expected availability” of this equipment in the commercial and retail market.

The new law applies to any engine producing less than 25 gross horsepower, including lawn mowers, trimmers, chainsaws, golf carts, specialty vehicles, generators and pumps. It does not apply to road motor vehicles, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles or model airplanes, cars or boats.

The California Air Resources Board has drafted regulations requiring that small engines covered by the new law be zero-emission, and the board could promulgate those requirements before the end of the year.

The agency began work on the regulations after Newsom issued an executive order in September 2020 requiring the state to “switch to 100% zero-emission all-terrain vehicles and equipment by 2035, as far as of the possible “.

In the same vein, Newsom demanded that all new cars sold be zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and supported the ban on the controversial use of hydraulic fracturing by oil companies.

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