Gavin Newsom Signs Law to Outlaw Gas-powered Lawn Mowers, Leaf Blowers

Leaf blower (James May / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
James May / Flickr / CC / Cropped

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Saturday that will outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers as part of a push for “zero-emission” gardening equipment and other “small off-road equipment operations.”

The law, AB 1346, is the first of its kind in the nation to regulate what the legislation calls “small off-road engines (SORE).”

It reads, in part:

(1) Small off-road engines (SORE), which are used primarily in lawn and garden equipment, emit high levels of air pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen (NOx), reactive organic gases (ROG), and particulate matter (PM). NOx and ROG together contribute to formation of ozone, a criteria pollutant with a national ambient air quality standard set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and a California ambient air quality standard and that has adverse impacts on health. Currently, California exceeds U.S. EPA and state standards for ozone in many areas, including the South Coast Air Basin, the San Francisco Bay area, and the County of Sacramento. NOx also contributes to formation of PM, which, along with directly emitted PM, has direct negative health impacts. PM also has an air quality standard set by the U.S. EPA and the state. Many areas in California also currently fail to meet PM standards, including the South Coast Air Basin and the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin.

(2) In 2020, California daily NOx and ROG emissions from SORE were higher than emissions from light-duty passenger cars. SORE emitted an average of 16.8 tons per day of NOx and 125 tons per day of ROG. Without further regulatory action, those emission levels are expected to increase with increasing numbers of SORE in California. Regulations of emissions from SORE have not been as stringent as regulations of other engines, and one hour of operation of a commercial leaf blower can emit as much ROG plus NOx as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger vehicle.

(3) Currently, there are zero-emission equivalents to all SORE equipment regulated by the State Air Resources Board. The battery technology required for commercial-grade zero-emission equipment is available and many users, both commercial and residential, have already begun to transition to zero-emission equipment.

(4) The Governor’s Executive Order No. N-79-20 of September 23, 2020, directs the state board to implement strategies to achieve 100 percent zero emissions from off-road equipment in California by 2035, where feasible and cost-effective. The state will not achieve that goal without further regulation of SORE, including a mandate to transition all sales of new equipment to zero-emission equipment.

The law requires the State Air Resources Board to develop “regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines” by July 1, 2022, which will apply to “engines produced on or after January 1, 2024, or as soon as the state board determines is feasible, whichever is later.”
Some municipal areas already prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers near residential buildings, requiring the use of battery-powered alternatives instead.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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