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California sets date to ban new gas-powered generators, lawnmowers, leaf blowers

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Madison Hirneisen | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – California environmental regulators have set a date to halt the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers, the latest move in the state’s efforts to address pollution and reduce emissions.

The California Air Resources Board on Thursday voted to require that new, small off-road engines – like the ones found in leaf blowers and lawn mowers – meet zero-emission standards starting in 2024. In addition, portable generators, including those found in recreational vehicles, must be zero-emission by 2028.

“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,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a statement. “It will also essentially eliminate exposure to harmful fumes for equipment operators and anyone nearby.”

The requirements will apply to new equipment manufactured after 2024, meaning Californians who currently own gasoline-powered equipment will still be allowed to operate it even after the requirement kicks in. In addition, older models on store shelves can still be purchased even if they are gasoline-powered, according to CARB.

State regulators estimate smog-forming emissions will be reduced by 72 tons each day by implementing these rules. According to CARB, a single commercial operator using a backpack leaf blower for one hour generates the same emissions as a car driving 1,100 miles – roughly the distance between San Diego and Colorado Springs.

The board’s decision affirmed a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October, which called for a new gasoline-powered off-road equipment ban after 2024. The bill was part of the governor’s California Comeback Plan, which focuses on several climate change initiatives. Lawmakers amended the legislation to ensure regulators prove a ban on gas generators is feasible before implementing the restriction.

The state will offer incentive funds to commercial purchasers of zero-emissions equipment. The state legislature has earmarked $30 million to help small landscaping businesses make the switch and purchase zero-emissions equipment.