California to ban lawn mowers

On October 9, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 1346, the state’s latest effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through onerous regulations, in law. The law prohibits the sale of new lawn mowers, leaf blowers and gasoline chainsaws, among other products. The law follows a decree direction the State Air Resources Board to develop a plan “to move to 100% zero-emission all-terrain vehicles and equipment” by 2035.

Even though they set ambitious goals for phasing out small gasoline engines, the law and governor’s decree admit that their goal may be unachievable in the years to come. Although the law decrees that the ban “will apply to engines produced on or after January 1, 2024,” lawmakers have included an important caveat: the ban will only take effect when it is deemed “feasible” by the State Air Resources Board, a date that could happen well after the 2024 law target. The inclusion of this qualification demonstrates the doubts of the authors of the legislation about the potential of the regulations to achieve their zero emission goal.

In response to the new regulations, Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, observed that the ban would place an increased burden on landscaping professionals, most of whom use gasoline-powered vehicles. In order to recharge the new electronic equipment, he explained, “companies will have to completely renovate all of their workshops.” Additionally, landscaping crews will need to make significant adjustments to accommodate the number of batteries needed to complete a day’s work. Additionally, business owners will have to pay more to purchase equipment when their current gasoline-powered equipment reaches the end of its lifespan.

In response to these concerns and to accelerate the switch from gas to electricity, the legislation requires the Air Resources Board to identify and make available “funding for trade discounts or similar incentive funding”. So far, the state has allocated $ 30 million in taxpayer dollars to subsidize the transition of professional landscapers from gas-powered equipment to all-electric equipment. Heads of state have provided no evidence, however, that this taxpayer support will make the government-imposed zero emissions target more “feasible.”

The cost of this legislation will not just fall on the owners and workers of lawn care companies. Under the ban, California taxpayers who take care of their own properties will also be forced to purchase more expensive zero-emission products. In addition, they will bear the cost of the transition of private lawn care companies from gas to zero emission equipment. As a result, many Californians will not only be forced to pay more for their lawn care, but will also have to fund the switch from lawn care companies to electrical equipment by raising their taxes.

Rather than allowing innovators to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, California’s efforts to ban gasoline vehicles stifle innovation and put taxpayers at the mercy of unproven technologies. As lawmakers and Governor Newsom admit, they can’t be sure that technologies backed by taxpayer dollars can do the job they are asked to do. In light of these regulations, it is not surprising that California lost residents for the first time in history and keep on going lose businesses.

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