Q&A: How California’s new ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other outdoor equipment will affect you

Buying a new gasoline-powered leaf blower, lawn mower, string trimmer, chain saw or other outdoor gardening tool in California that runs on fossil fuels may soon be a tradition of the past.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation law to require new small-engine equipment used in landscaping to emit zero pollution — meaning battery-operated or plug-in models only — by as early as Jan. 1, 2024.

The new law is getting a lot of attention. Here are the facts.

Q: Don’t some cities already ban gas-powered leaf blowers? They can be noisy.

A: Yes. Belvedere, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Claremont, Indian Wells, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Malibu, Mill Valley, Mountain View, Newport Beach, Oakland, Ojai, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Santa Barbara, Solana Beach, Sunnyvale, Tiburon and West Hollywood are among the cities in California that banned gasoline-powered leaf blowers, often because of complaints about noise.

Q: So what’s this new law?

A: Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1346, written by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto. It requires the California Air Resources Board, an agency in Sacramento that regulates air pollution, to adopt statewide rules by July 1, 2022 that “prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions” from “new small off-road engines” in a manner that is “cost-effective and technologically feasible.”

Q: What kinds of tools will that include?

A: The state air board defines “small off-road engines” as combustion engines with less than 25 gross horsepower, including those found in lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, golf carts, generators and pumps.

Q: Does that mean I have to get rid of my lawn mower or weed whacker?

A: No. The law only applies to sales of new equipment. But you won’t be able to buy new gasoline-powered garden tools in California after it takes effect.

Q: When does it take effect?

A: On Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon as the air board “determines is feasible, whichever is later.” In other words, the earliest the rules would take effect is about 26 months from now.

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Q: This sounds kind of like nanny state stuff. Do these things really pollute that much?

A: According to scientists at the air board, yes. The state began regulating emissions from small off-road engines in 1990. But the rules haven’t been updated in years, even as standards for cars, oil refineries and other sources of smog have tightened.

Using the best-selling gasoline-powered leaf blower for 1 hour now emits the same amount of air pollution (nitrogen oxides and reactive organic gases, which form smog) as driving a typical car, a 2017 Toyota Camry, 1,100 miles, according to the air board. That’s like driving from the Bay Area to Denver. Using a gasoline lawn mower for 1 hour emits the same amount of air pollution as driving a car 300 miles, or about as far as a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Q: But are there really that many?

A: Yes. There are 16.7 million small engines in California, compared with 13.7 million passenger cars.

In fact, this year, total emissions from small engines have now surpassed …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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