California to Ban Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers and Lawn Mowers


California will ban the sales of new gas-powered equipment like leaf blowers as soon as 2024. Mint Images / Getty Images


Did you know that using a gas-powered leaf blower for just one hour produces the same amount of emissions as a drive from Los Angeles to Denver?

To address the high pollution of yard maintenance, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Saturday that will ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf-blowers, lawn mowers and other off-road engines as early as 2024, The Sacramento Bee reported.

"It's amazing how people react when they learn how much this equipment pollutes, and how much smog-forming and climate-changing emissions that small off-road engine equipment creates," Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), who wrote the bill in question, told the Los Angeles Times. "This is a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly."

The bill, AB-1346, will require all new small, off-road engines sold in the state to release zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2024, or as soon as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) decides the switch is possible. Portable, gas-powered generators will have to make the switch by 2028, or whenever CARB determines.


The bill builds on Newsom's executive order of last year banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. That order also included a transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by the same date, and the bill says legislation is necessary to reach this goal.


California is the only state currently allowed to set its own air pollution regulations, The AP explained, but other states can follow its lead. There are more than 16.7 million small engines in the state, three million more than the total number of passenger cars. It first regulated their emissions in 1990, becoming the first government anywhere in the world to do so. However, vehicle emissions have improved much more than emissions from these smaller engines in the ensuing years.


Supporters of the new law argue that it is essential to the state's larger goals of reducing air pollution and confronting the climate crisis.


"Gov. Newsom signing (this law) really sets a strong course to not only his commitment to transitioning to zero emissions but also to cleaner air and healthier lungs," Will Barrett, director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association in California, told The AP.


Opponents of the bill include Republicans and some Democrats who are primarily concerned about how the generator requirements will impact people in rural areas, especially as blackouts become more frequent during wildfire season, the Los Angeles Times reported. Berman, however, said that CARB would take these concerns into consideration when determining its timetable.


Another worry is expense. Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, said that the cost of a zero-emission lawn mower was almost double that of a gas-powered model.


The bill does require the state to help professionals foot the bill for the transition, and Berman said the state had set $30 million for this purpose, but Bray argued that wasn't enough.


However, Berman also pointed out that professionals and home-owners could still use gas-powered equipment purchased before the phase-out date, and that property owners, cities and universities were already transitioning to zero-emissions equipment.


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