California to ban new gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers soon

It’s time to ditch leaf blowers and gasoline lawn mowers, at least in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that will phase them out by 2024 or as soon as possible, whichever comes first. The new regulation aims to promote the use of zero-emission landscaping tools, whether battery-powered or plug-in. The law comes a year after Newson signed an executive order to phase out the sale of gasoline vehicles by 2035.

Image credit: Flickr / Dean Hochman.

For years, California has pushed for stronger action to reduce pollution levels. It is the only state that can regulate air quality on its own thanks to an exception in federal law. While they cannot pass their own air quality laws, other states may choose to follow California’s lead instead of the US federal government, whichever works best for them.

Under the new law, retailers will only be allowed to sell zero-emission gardening equipment, such as electrical or battery-powered products. The bill’s author, lawmaker Marc Berman, and supporters such as the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists, say the new regulations will help make construction sites less polluting.

California will allocate $ 30 million to help landscapers and gardeners transition to zero-emission equipment. Yet this is considered insufficient by industry representatives. A commercial gasoline-powered lawn mower costs between $ 7,000 and $ 11,000, while a zero-emission mower can cost twice as much, according to industry estimates.

The California Air Resources Council, part of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency, estimates that operating a gasoline leaf blower can cause as much air pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers). With over 16 million small engines in the state, such a change could be pretty big.

“It’s amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes and how many smog-forming and climate-modifying emissions create a small all-terrain engine equipment,” Berman said. Los Angeles Times. “This is a fairly modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits.”

A green transformation

Most leaf blowers and lawn mowers use a two-stroke engine without an independent lubrication system, so fuel must be mixed with oil. This can lead to the release of harmful toxic pollutants into the air, such as nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. And this is not something minor, with very high commutative pollution levels, as seen in previous studies.

A 2011 study found that a leaf blower can emit nearly 300 times more air pollutants than a pickup truck. And in 2001, a group of researchers have found that operating a gasoline-powered lawn mower for an hour generates the same air pollution as driving a car 160 kilometers. That is why it can be very important to find zero emission alternatives.

Still, buying an electric leaf blower can be quite expensive and probably not for everyone. That is why do not remove the leaves is also a very good option, either leaving them whole on landscape areas or moving them into a layer of mulch on the lawn. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do for pollinators and invertebrates.

The leaves are great for grass, recycle nutrients in the soil, and are a great addition to compost. You can stack leaves and add a handful to the compost pile, helping the whole process. The leaves also provide a safe habitat for many insects, which fold up into a pile of leaves for protection or even lay eggs in the fallen leaves.

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