Lawn Mowers Going Green: California Is Banning New Gas-powered Equipment

Hannah DeWitt
· 4 min read
The state of
does not like smoggy skies, and it’s taking drastic action to remove them. First, they went after obvious pollutants, enacting a rule to make all
new cars in the state electric by 2035
. There’s also a push to invest in more car-charging stations and public transportation.
But there are other sources of air pollution in California. These include machinery with small engines, and many of those are in lawn equipment. According to
, these small engines have drawn the state's attention, and now there will be a law banning them too.
Gas-powered lawn mowers are capable of producing more air pollution than cars.

Does lawn equipment cause much pollution?

Autoblog points out that California has 16.7 million small off-road engines, belonging to machines such as lawn mowers, generators, and pressure washers. Many of the engines run on gas and produce pollution.
California originally imposed
emission standards
on these small engines in 1990, but their emissions levels haven't improved since. Cars have reduced their emissions a lot in 30 years, and they now produce less air pollution than lawn mowers.
These small engines can emit as much pollution in an hour as your 2017 Toyota Camry would if you drove it from LA to Denver. That is a distance of 1,100 miles. There are also three million more small engines in California than there are cars.
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Lawn equipment pollution isn’t new

California has been working on improving air quality since the state received enough authority in the 1970s. The state was the first in the world to impose emissions standards on small engines, as well as mandate very strict emissions standards for cars. This inspired other states to create standards of their own.
Last year, the California State Assembly passed a law to make
sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans. This is the first rule of its kind in the country. That was also the year that they ruled to eventually ban sales of new gas-powered cars.
The California Air Resources Board has been working on the law to ban gas-powered small engines, and wants it to be implemented soon. The law, proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Marc Berman, was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 9.
The director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association in California, Will Barrett, praised the bill. He sees it as a step toward cleaner air and healthier lungs for Californians, and feels it shows a willingness to transition to zero emissions. 

How will this affect your lawn equipment?

The small-engine law is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators think it's feasible, whichever comes later. 
This means that Californians have at least two more years to buy gas-powered lawn mowers. After that, there will be rebates for people who switch their gas-powered equipment to electric equipment. 
The state set aside $30 million in the budget to meet the obligations imposed by the rebates. This is supposed to make the transition easier for landscaping businesses that use a large number of combustion lawn mowers and blowers.
Automakers have come to embrace the idea of making only electric cars by 2035, and we can only hope that the lawn mower industry rises to the challenge too. 
Whether your car is gas-powered or electric, it still needs good insurance. The
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