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Bill Banning Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment Heads to Newsom

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Clear air advocates are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill phasing out the sale of gas-powered small-engine equipment. (Shutterstock)
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The state Legislature passed a bill this week phasing out the sale of new gas-powered outdoor power equipment by 2024 or a date determined by California’s air regulators.

According to the authors of Assembly Bill 1346, the small gas engines emit smog-forming pollutants at levels projected to double those from cars by 2031.

“Leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and other equipment with small gas-powered engines emit staggering levels of air pollution,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), who authored the bill with Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego).

“These noisy machines are terribly disruptive to communities across California, and the workers who breathe in exhaust from this equipment day in and day out face disproportionate health risks, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”

Meanwhile, advances in lithium battery technology are powering the popularity of electric landscaping equipment.

For example, Briggs & Stratton, whose name is synonymous with small gas engines, offers a mower battery that it says provides “reliable performance, easy starting and long run time for a more efficient and enjoyable mowing experience.”

Incentives to Go Electric

The bill earmarks $30 million in the state budget to help small businesses purchase zero-emission replacements. And, in the San Joaquin Valley, the air-pollution control district provides incentives to residents and commercial users for new zero-emission electric lawn gear.

Incentive information for Valley residents is at this link. To check out commercial incentives, click on this link.

“Landscaping emissions are an important source of emissions and for years the District has looked for opportunities to reduce emissions from residential and commercial lawn and garden activities,” said Valley Air spokeswoman Jaime Holt. “We have been offering an innovative grant program to exchange gas-powered lawn care equipment for zero-emission equipment since the early 2000s and added a commercial lawn care grant program in recent years.

“The major pollutants from lawn care equipment are PM2.5, NOx, and a mixture of hydrocarbons, which combine with other gases in the atmosphere to form ozone, carbon monoxide, and other toxic air contaminants.”

Advocates Urge Newsom to Sign Bill

Clean-air advocates praised the bill’s passage and urged Newsom to sign it.

“Californians face the most difficult air pollution challenges in the United States, and small off-road engines are a growing source of this health burden,” said Will Barrett of the American Lung Association. “Governor Newsom should sign AB 1346 to accelerate the pathway to healthier air and healthier lungs.”

You can see how your state representative voted at this link.

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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