California bans gasoline lawn equipment and other “small all-terrain engines”
California will ban “small all-terrain engines” (SORE) primarily used in gasoline-powered lawn equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers, in a law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed over the weekend.
The bill, AB 1346, directs the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations that will come into effect by 2024. It prohibits the sale of new SOREs, but does not appear to prohibit their exploitation.
The law will apply not only to gasoline lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment and other assorted categories. The bill gives regulators some leeway with regulation based on what is deemed “technologically feasible” so that parts of the regulation may be pushed beyond 2024.
California’s reasoning for the ban is that gasoline-powered lawn equipment produces surprisingly high levels of pollution, but these devices have not 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 particles. This exhaust forms smog, which contributes to poor air quality and is harmful to 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 gasoline leaf blower for an hour can produce as many ROG NOx + 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 loud (and noise pollution kills too).
The bill points out that there are very good zero-emission replacements for these engines, and these are available at low cost. Some regulators already have rebate programs to reduce the cost of switching to electric lawn mowers, for 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 retirement of SOREs. AB 1346 directs state agencies to increase funding for these programs to support the transition to zero-emission equipment.
If you’re in California (or anywhere else that looks good), check out Electrek ‘s The âGreen Dealsâ 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 lungs and ears. And check with your clean air regulator to see if any discounts are available – here’s the California page, with links to regional incentives for various parts of California.
People who have switched to electric lawn equipment also seem to like them. I have heard a lot of positive reviews 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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