New California Law Will Ban Sale of Gas-Powered Mowers

State is phasing out small gas-powered engines
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2021 6:45 PM CDT
California Is Phasing Out Gas-Powered Mowers, Blowers
Gas-powered small engines cause a shocking amount of pollution, state officials say.   (Getty Images/Mikhail Kolomiets)

Gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers are on the way out in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed banning the sale of new gas-powered lawn equipment by Jan. 1, 2024, or whenever regulators determine is feasible. The bill, the first of its kind in the US, is aimed at tackling the startlingly high pollution levels caused by gas-powered small off-road engines, or SORE, CBS reports. The category also includes equipment like gas-powered pressure washers, chainsaws, and golf carts. The bill includes $30 million to help landscaping companies transition to using zero-emissions equipment, though industry representatives warn that it won't be enough.

California has more than 16.7 million SORE, around 3 million more than the number of passenger cars in the country's most populous state, the AP reports. But in recent decades, far more progress had been made in reducing emissions from cars. State officials say running a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour produces as much pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry 1,100 miles. Officials say the combined pollution from the small engines is more than that produced by light-duty passenger cars.

State officials say pollution from SORE equipment has been linked to illnesses including lung cancer and heart disease —and a 2018 study found that equipment operators could double their cancer risk. "This is a pretty modest approach to trying to limit the massive amounts of pollution that this equipment emits, not to mention the health impact on the workers who are using it constantly," said the legislation's author, Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman, per the Los Angeles Times. (The state plans to end the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.)

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