How will California’s new ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, lawnmowers and other outdoor equipment affect you?

Purchasing a new fossil fuel-powered, gasoline-powered leaf blower, lawnmower, string trimmer, chain saw, or other outdoor gardening tool in California may soon be a thing of the past.

On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a country-first by January 1st mandating that new small motorized equipment used in landscaping should emit zero pollution, meaning only battery-powered or plug-in models. , 2024.

The new law is of great interest. Here are the facts.

Q: Don’t some cities already ban gas-powered leaf blowers? They can be noisy.

A: Yeah. Belvedere, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Claremont, Indian Wells, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Malibu, Mill Valley, Mountain View, Newport Beach, Oakland, Ojai, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Santa Barbara, Solana Beach, Sunnyvale, Tiburon, and West Hollywood, California is among the cities that ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers, often due to noise complaints.

Q: So what is this new law?

A: Newsom signed Parliamentary Bill 1346Written by Councilor Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto. It requires the California Air Resources Board, an agency that regulates air pollution in Sacramento, to adopt “statewide rules” prohibiting “engine exhaust and evaporative emissions” from “new small terrain engines” by July 1, 2022. cost-effective and technologically feasible.”

Q: What kind of tools will it include?

A: The state air board defines “small off-road engines” as combustion engines with a gross horsepower of 25, including those found in lawnmowers, string pruners, chainsaws, golf carts, generators, and pumps.

Q: Does this mean I should get rid of my lawnmower or lawnmower?

A: No. The law only applies to sales of new equipment. But once it’s in effect, you won’t be able to buy new gasoline-powered garden tools in California.

Q: When does it come into effect?

A: On January 1, 2024, or as soon as the weather board determines “whichever comes later” is possible. In other words, the earliest the rules will take effect is approximately 26 months from now.

Q: It’s kind of like a nanny state job. Do these things really pollute that much?

A: According to scientists at the weather board, yes. The state began regulating emissions from small off-road engines in 1990. However, the rules haven’t been updated in years, although standards have been tightened for cars, oil refineries, and other sources of smoke.

Using the best selling petrol leaf blower for 1 hour is now a typical car, 1,100 miles, 2017 Toyota Camry, according to the weather board. It’s like driving from the Bay Area to Denver. Using a gasoline lawnmower for 1 hour emits the same amount of air pollution as driving a car 300 miles or a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Q: But are there really that many?

A: Yeah. California has 16.7 million small engines compared to 13.7 million passenger cars.

In fact, this year, total emissions from small engines exceeded the combined emissions of all passenger cars in California at around 150 tons per day for each source. weather report.

Q: What about landscaping companies?

A: This law also applies to them. And most of them are not happy. The National Association of Lawn Professionals opposed the bill, saying that while there are plenty of electric garden tools for sale to homeowners at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other stores, there aren’t nearly as many heavy-duty commercial models available. They point out that batteries need to be recharged regularly, and equipment is often more expensive than gas-powered alternatives.

“We support a responsible transition to this equipment once the equipment is ready,” said Andrew Bray, vice president of the association. “Right now the equipment has performance issues, cost issues, and infrastructure issues.”

The organization announced that it will continue to lobby the Air Resources Board for more flexibility in writing the rules.

Lawmakers have included $30 million in the state budget this year to provide financial incentives to commercial landscape companies, but the industry association says that’s not enough.

Q: Who supported the law?

A: American Lung Association, Sierra Club, Audubon California, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the cities of Albany, Glendale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose and South Pasadena, and others. Proponents say the rules will also reduce the risk of asthma and other health problems in landscape workers.

Q: Did it pass unanimously?

A: No, Republicans and some Democrats disagreed. It was passed by a vote of 21-9 in the State Senate and 47-22 in the State Assembly.

The weather board has already started a process to write new rules, and the law is now setting a deadline. In addition, Newsom signed an executive order last year calling for these engines to be phased out. It was the same landmark order that banned the sale of gasoline-powered cars in California after 2035 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Q: What about generators? Will the sale of new gas powered generators really be banned?

A: They were included in the bill, but the weather board said it won’t pass the new sales ban until 2028, as alternatives like battery models or fuel cell generators that charge from solar panels aren’t that far off yet. electric garden tools.

Q: Can I buy gasoline powered equipment from other states after the new rules come into effect?

A: Yeah. But California often passes pollution laws first, then other states and eventually the federal government copy those rules. And as climate change worsens droughts, wildfires and other problems, the trend in the US, Europe and elsewhere is towards electrifying everything and generating more power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

A man uses a leaf blower in San Jose on April 13, 2021. (George Sakkestad/Staff Photographer)

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