Earlier this month, but beginning in 2024, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) banned the sale of new gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed trimmers and chain saws.
In its press release, CARB stressed, “The new requirement… applies to manufacturers and will impact new equipment (Model Year 2024 and later) only. There will be no ‘ban’ on using older models or used equipment purchased in the future.”
The new regulations will not immediately affect portable generators. However, emission standards for generators and large pressure washers will begin to increase in 2026. Beginning in 2028, this equipment also will have to meet a zero-emissions standard.
“Today’s action by the board addresses these small but highly polluting engines. It is a significant step towards improving air quality in the state and will definitely help us meet stringent federal air quality standards,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph in the board’s press release. “It will also essentially eliminate exposure to harmful fumes for equipment operators and anyone nearby.”
According to CARB, emissions from this equipment already equal emissions produced from a light-duty passenger car and in 10 years, these emissions could be twice those produced by passenger cars.
The CARB press release compared emissions from mowers and blowers to the equivalent produced by a car driving 1,100 miles. From Idyllwild, that is slightly more than the drive to Laramie, Wyoming and slightly less than driving to Austin, Texas.
Equipment that will mow and blow while producing zero emissions is not a bureaucrat hope. CARB has worked with manufacturers in anticipation of this requirement. For three years, CARB has shown mowers and blowers already capable of production in California that produce zero emissions.
Besides individual homeowners, the impact also will fall on commercial landscapers. To mitigate the potential costs, the state Legislature has already appropriated $30 million to help “… sole proprietors and other small landscaping businesses in California to help them purchase zero-emission, small off-road equipment, including leaf blowers, lawn mowers and string trimmers.”
Nevertheless, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), in a press release, expressed disappointment that “… CARB has decided to move forward with the 2024 timeline despite the information presented by the landscape industry and other interested stakeholders that the battery-powered equipment currently on the market isn’t sufficient for high-volume commercial use.
“By its own calculations, CARB could have allowed for a slightly longer transition, beginning in 2026, and still have achieved its targeted emission reduction goals,” NALP argued.
But the Clean Air coalition was totally supportive of CARB’s decision, “Help is on the way for California’s workers and residents who suffer from the lung-searing exhaust emitted by dirty gas-powered lawn and garden equipment,” said Bill Magavern, policy director at the Coalition for Clean Air.
CARB’s action follows the Legislature’s enactment of Assembly Bill 1346, which required the board to make a decision by July 1, 2022. And also consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20 where he instructed CARB to develop “[s]trategies… to achieve 100 percent zero-emission from off-road vehicles and equipment operations in the state by 2035.”