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California to Ban Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment

By: Sydney Sheffield 

Starting as early as 2024, the state of California will ban the sale of gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and chainsaws. The law requires all newly sold small-motor equipment primarily used for landscaping to be zero-emission. The California Air Resources Board will determine the date at which it is feasible to implement the law. 

“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, author of the legislation 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.”

New portable gas-powered generators also must be zero-emission by 2028, which also could be delayed at the discretion of the state Air Resource Board. Machinery with small off-road engines also includes weed trimmers, pumps, golf carts, and devices that produce less than 25 gross horsepower. The law states that these devices create as much smog-causing pollution in California as light-duty passenger cars, and reducing those emissions is pivotal to improving air quality and combating climate change.

For those in the profession of landscaping and gardening, the state has set aside $30 million to help with the transition. An industry professional told the Los Angeles Times that amount is “woefully inadequate for the estimated small businesses that will be affected by the law.” There has been no word on whether small farmers and ranchers in the state will qualify for this aid or what impact this might have on their businesses. 

Andrew Bray, Vice President of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, explained to the Los Angeles Times that the zero-emission commercial-grade equipment landscapers use is more expensive and less efficient than the existing gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other small machinery. Also, landscaping crews will be responsible for carrying an estimated 30-40 fully charged batteries while on the job. 

“This Legislature hates fuel, which is very sustainable. It’s easy to access. And when the power is off, you can still use it,” said California State Senator Brian Dahle. “You can still run a generator to keep your freezer going, to keep your medical devices going. But when your battery’s dead, and there’s no power on, you have nothing.”

In the same order, California Governor Gavin Newsome required all new cars sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.