California bans gas-powered lawn equipment and other ‘small off-road engines’

California will bansmall off-road engines(SORE) primarily used in gas-powered lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers, in legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom over the weekend.

The law project, AB 1346directs the Air Resources Board of California to develop regulations that will take effect by 2024. It prohibits the sale of new SOREs, but does not appear to prohibit their operation.

The law will apply not only to gas-powered lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment and other assorted categories. The bill gives regulators some leeway with regulations based on what is deemed “technologically feasible,” so parts of the regulations could be pushed back beyond 2024.

California’s reasoning for the ban is that gas-powered lawn equipment produces surprisingly high levels of pollution, but these devices haven’t been subject to as much regulation as vehicle engines allowing them to pollute with impunity. . The small engines in this equipment do not completely burn the gasoline used to run them, which means they emit high levels of exhaust particulates. These exhaust gases form smog, which contributes to poor air quality and harms health.

In fact, they’re so dirty that according to California regulators, SOREs in California contribute more to total nitrous oxide (NOx) and reactive organic gas (ROG) pollution than passenger cars statewide. Running a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour can produce as many NOx+ROG emissions as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger car.

Passenger cars still produce more global warming emissions than SOREs, but the health effects of these small engines are much heavier than you might think. And they are also very noisy (and noise pollution also kills).

The bill points out that there are very good zero-emission replacements for these engines, and these are available at low cost. Some regulators have already discount programs to reduce the cost of switching to electric lawn mowers for both residential and commercial users. These programs have been in place for a long time because lawn equipment is relatively cheap and highly polluting, so regulators can get their money’s worth by incentivizing the removal of SOREs. AB 1346 directs state agencies to increase funding for these programs to support the transition to zero-emissions equipment.

If you’re in California (or anywhere else that looks like it), check out Electrek’s the “Green offers” section where we periodically publish green technology offers. You’ll find deals on electric lawn equipment quite often, so save a few bucks while helping save your neighborhood’s lungs and ears. And check with your clean air regulator to see if any discounts are available – here is the California pagewith links to regional incentives for different parts of California.

People who have opted for electric lawn equipment also seem to like them. I heard a lot of positive comments from the owners. In particular, our editor, Seth Weintraub, loves his (and he won’t stop talking about it on our Slack channel either):

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