California signs law to ban gas-powered lawnmowers, garden equipment

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Man on a riding lawn mower that has grass stuck to the wheels. Spring and summer outdoor maintenance.

SACRAMENTO, CA – California’s liberal, progressive Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that will ban the use of gas-powered lawnmowers and garden equipment as he continues to fight global warming one household at a time. The bill will eventually make it illegal to sell gas-powered lawn equipment.

The Bill reads as follows:

(1) Small off-road engines (SORE), which are used primarily in lawn and garden equipment, emit high levels of air pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen (NOx), reactive organic gases (ROG), and particulate matter (PM). NOx and ROG together contribute to formation of ozone, a criteria pollutant with a national ambient air quality standard set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and a California ambient air quality standard and that has adverse impacts on health. Currently, California exceeds U.S. EPA and state standards for ozone in many areas, including the South Coast Air Basin, the San Francisco Bay area, and the County of Sacramento. NOx also contributes to formation of PM, which, along with directly emitted PM, has direct negative health impacts. PM also has an air quality standard set by the U.S. EPA and the state. Many areas in California also currently fail to meet PM standards, including the South Coast Air Basin and the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin.

(2) In 2020, California daily NOx and ROG emissions from SORE were higher than emissions from light-duty passenger cars. SORE emitted an average of 16.8 tons per day of NOx and 125 tons per day of ROG. Without further regulatory action, those emission levels are expected to increase with increasing numbers of SORE in California. Regulations of emissions from SORE have not been as stringent as regulations of other engines, and one hour of operation of a commercial leaf blower can emit as much ROG plus NOx as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger vehicle.

(3) Currently, there are zero-emission equivalents to all SORE equipment regulated by the State Air Resources Board. The battery technology required for commercial-grade zero-emission equipment is available and many users, both commercial and residential, have already begun to transition to zero-emission equipment.

(4) The Governor’s Executive Order No. N-79-20 of September 23, 2020, directs the state board to implement strategies to achieve 100 percent zero emissions from off-road equipment in California by 2035, where feasible and cost-effective. The state will not achieve that goal without further regulation of SORE, including a mandate to transition all sales of new equipment to zero-emission equipment.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the state board to act expeditiously to protect public health from the harmful effects of emissions of small off-road engines.