In 20 months, it will be illegal to buy new gas-powered leaf blowers in California

A mid-size 2016 Toyota Camry can go up to 25 mpg in the city and up to 35 mpg on the highway.

That’s pretty decent mileage. And it’s safe to assume it’s cleaner than a full-size SUV.

But compared to the typical gas-powered lawnmower, as well as the typical gas-powered leaf blower, the 2016 Camry is virtually emission-free.

The best-selling gas-powered lawn mower – based on studies conducted by the California Air Resources Board – emits as much smog-forming pollution in one hour of operation as the 2016 Camry in 9 round trips between Manteca and Turlock.

It’s nothing compared to the most popular gas-powered leaf blower. The Camry must make almost eight round trips between Manteca and San Jose to pollute the air at the level where a leaf blower operates for an hour.

That’s what’s behind a looming mandate that bans the sale of most yard-care equipment sold in California produced in 2024 and after that is gas-powered.

The level of pollution emitted by small gasoline engines is why starting to wean Californians before cutting new gasoline vehicle sales from the 2035 model year is happening first.

CARB research in 2021 showed that the 15.4 million small engines on small appliances such as lawn mowers, weeders, light chainsaws and leaf blowers generate an estimated 141 tonnes of smog producing carbon dioxide. pollution per day. That’s about the same as all the pollution emitted by all light-duty vehicles operated in California.

There are clearly a host of issues surrounding the New Zero-Emission Vehicles 2035 mandate that could warrant rethinking this law, including:

*The ability to generate clean electricity to recharge them.

* The practice of such technology in remote areas and snow country.

*The possibility of having adequate raw materials such as lithium.

* Battery life and possibly ongoing performance issues.

* Ensure adequate production capacity is in place to make electric vehicles or other zero-emission technologies affordable to the masses.

None of these concerns affect small engine lawn equipment, with the possible exception of those aimed at the commercial landscape market.

If you’ve used the new lithium-battery leaf blowers and weed eaters, you already know a few things.

*For typical job sites, batteries have adequate charges.

* There is no loss of performance by using weeders in tall or thick vegetation.

*When it comes to leaf blowers, just like gas-powered blowers, the more expensive ones have more power.
* If you have multiple devices from the same manufacturer, you don’t even need to purchase a spare battery if your task is more daunting than a typical sized yard as they are interchangeable.
* And just like with electric garden maintenance equipment hooked up to power cords, they are far easier to start and have fewer maintenance issues.

Battery powered lawn mowers have come a long way, freeing you from the hassle of cords being the correct length or accidentally running over them.

CARB estimated in 2021 that 55% of lawn and garden care equipment for home use in California was already electric – powered by extension cords or batteries.

Only 6% of lawn care equipment owned by professional landscape maintenance companies – including government entities such as school districts and cities – was electric.

Technology is still evolving, especially for professional-grade devices. All-day use that often covers larger areas poses issues with battery charging as well as the equipment’s ability to perform as it should.

That said, the biggest sticking point for equipment available for professional use is price.

Based on testing conducted by LandCare USA which provides landscaping services in 20 states, the cost of securing an electric trimmer for professional work is up to three times higher than the powered version. essence.

That’s why the original legislation provided $30 million to help California lawn and garden companies purchase new equipment.

But if what the manufacturers promise comes true, the higher initial cost of the equipment will be negated by lower operating costs.

Toro says its battery-powered commercial lawn mower dubbed “Revolution” will cost twice as much as a gas-powered model with comparable performance.

Toro, however, estimates that customers will be able to recoup this additional cost over a 2.5-year period by not having to purchase gasoline, replace engine filters and incur other costs.

Like the automotive mandate, nothing in the law prohibits the use of gas-powered yard-care equipment in 2024 and beyond. Existing gasoline equipment can be used, sold and bought.

It is a process of weaning by attrition. When the equipment stops working, its history. No one is going cold turkey.

Keep in mind that this is really driven in California not by climate change so much as by the need to improve our air quality.

This statement may irritate climate change fanatics, so they deserve at least some kudos for applying to advance the Zero Emission Lawn Care Equipment Act.

As early as the 1990s, the South Coast Los Angeles Basin Air Quality Management District raised the need to ban small engines in the form of weed eaters, leaf blowers and lawn mowers. .

They pointed out that the pollution generated by these devices was greater than any created by planes using LA International, Orange County and Burbank airports, as well as many smaller airfields.

When they suggested phasing out as the state has now mandated, the pushback was fast and furious.

These were not landlords, but small garden maintenance companies.

At one point, protesters outside Los Angeles City Hall equated the ban on gas-powered yard maintenance equipment with racism, as they argued that the vast majority of yard maintenance companies lawns that would be affected belonged to immigrants.

The climate change clamor allowed some of the most problematic political goals of the California campaign to clear its air that began in earnest when Democrats and Republicans had equal power in Sacramento and Ronald Reagan was governor.

This was in the early 1970s, when the words “climate” and “change” were rarely spoken together.

It is clear that the air quality has improved. According to some indicators dating back to 1992, the air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is 50% better despite the region’s population doubling.

Although we are not going to rid the air of all human-made pollution, we still need to do better.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s State of the Air 2022 report – based on data collected from 2018 to 2020 – underscores this point.

Based on ozone, six of the nation’s top 10 metropolitan statistical areas for worst air determined by ozone levels are in California. (1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, 2. Bakersfield, 3. Visalia, 4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, 6. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad and 9. Sacramento-Roseville.)

Seven of the top 10 cities with the most year-round particle pollution are in the Golden State. (1. Bakersfield, 2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, 3. Visalia, 4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, 5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, 9. Chico and 10. El Centro)

And eight of the 10 most polluted cities with short-term particles are in California. (1. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, 2. Bakersfield, 4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, 5. Redding-Red Bluff, 6. Chico, 7. Sacramento-Roseville, 8. Los Angeles-Long Beach and 9 . Visalia.)

Losing the ability to buy new gas-powered yard-care equipment in California from 2024 is a small price to pay for significantly lower air pollution.

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