California has banned the sale of new gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, and other small motor lawn-care tools under a bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday.
The new law requires small-motor landscaping equipment to be zero-emission, meaning that they must be battery-powered or plug-in, by 2024 or as soon as the California Air Resources Board determines it is feasible to make the transition. New portable gas-powered generators are required to be zero-emission by 2028, or later if the agency says so, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The ban covers all engines that produce less than 25 gross horsepower, including lawn mowers, weed trimmers, chain saws, golf carts, specialty vehicles, generators and pumps. It does not apply to on-road motor vehicles, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, model airplanes, or cars.
Gas-powered equipment purchased before the ban goes into effect can still be used.
The author of the bill, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D), praised the governor for signing the law banning "dangerous" lawn care equipment.
"Thank you @GavinNewsom for singing my bill to ban the sale of gas powered leaf blowers & other small engine equipment beginning in 2024! This equipment is dangerous to the workers who use it, disruptive to communities, & terribly damaging to our climate," Berman tweeted.
According to Berman, California will spend $30 million to assist professional landscapers and gardeners make the transition from gas-powered to electric equipment. However, an industry expert who spoke to the Times said that an estimated 50,000 California businesses will be impacted by the new law and $30 million won't be enough to help them cover the costs the new law will impose:
Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Assn. of Landscape Professionals, said the zero-emission commercial-grade equipment landscapers use is also prohibitively expensive and less efficient than the existing gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other small machinery. For example, a gas-powered commercial riding lawn mower costs $7,000 to $11,000, but its zero-emission equivalent costs more than twice that amount, he said.
Another major expense will be batteries. Bray said a three-person landscaping crew will need to carry 30 to 40 fully charged batteries to power its equipment during a full day's work.
"These companies are going to have to completely retrofit their entire workshops to be able to handle this massive change in voltage so they're going to be charged every day," Bray said.
The ban on small-motor equipment follows an executive order Newsom signed last September that effectively bans the sale of passenger cars that run on internal combustion by 2035. Newsom's executive order directed the California State Air Resources Board to begin drafting regulations to outlaw the sale gasoline-powered engines in the state and the agency was prepared to enact new rules on small-motor equipment even before the governor signed the ban into law.