A new bill that would phase out the sale of new gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE) by 2024 was introduced in the Assembly Monday.
Assembly Bill 1346, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines. Specifically, the sale of new gas-powered small off-road engines, commonly found in gardening and outdoors equipment such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and other similar equipment would be transitioned over to only zero-emission motor equipment.
While gas-powered equipment would not be made illegal, the sale of new gas powered SORE would be phased out until 2024, or by a date that CARB finds acceptable. CARB would also have to make funding available for commercial rebates to support the transition to zero-emission SORE.
Berman and Gonzalez wrote AB 1346 for several reasons. The chief reason is reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), reactive organic gas (ROG), and other common emissions, with the bill equating one hour of using a commercial leaf blower emitting the same amount of emissions as driving 1,100 miles in a new car. The bill also notes that SORE emission standards have not been strictly regulated, and that the implementation of the bill would help meet the zero-emission goals of Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order last year from ending the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in California by 2035.
Cases for, against AB 1346
Both lawmakers noted the associated health risks to gas-powered motor caused emissions and pollutants in their bill announcement on Monday.
“Today, operating the best-selling gas-powered commercial leaf blower for one hour emits air pollutants comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver,” said Assemblyman Berman. “Smog-forming emissions from small engines will surpass those from passenger vehicles this year. We must look beyond transportation if we are to achieve the emissions reductions needed to fight climate change and improve air quality and health in our communities.”
Assemblywoman Gonzalez also touted AB 1346.
“It’s time to phase out these super polluters,” Gonzalez said. “They’re not only bad for our environment, but can cause serious health issues for workers who utilize them every day. We can and must help small landscaping businesses replace their gas-powered equipment with cleaner alternatives.”
While no formal opposition has been brought against AB 1346 yet, many organizations are preparing to fight the bill, noting the unfairness to consumers that this would brig, as well as the many loopholes around it.
“This bill is a non-starter to begin with,” said Jose Diaz, a landscaping coordinator in Los Angeles who has given testimony against similar proposed local gas-powered SORE limitation laws, to the Globe.
“The argument always comes down to something like ‘you can buy a gas-powered version in Mexico or Arizona or some place out of state and it’s not illegal to bring it in.’ If you can do that, or with the way we’re moving to online shopping, just order a gas-powered lawnmower from out of state without consequence, what is the point of this?”
“A lot of landscapers hate the electric versions of some of these things. While leaf blowers work just fine, a lot of equipment still needs the gas version for powerful more use. Most I have talked to treat it like the electric car. It won’t be accepted if it takes longer to charge a battery than gas up or doesn’t get as much mileage.”
“The sentiment is nice, but until you can make the two comparable, you need to give us options. A lot of people are going to fight them on this, especially since the Governor’s car thing is 2035 and this [bill] is saying 2024 as the end date.”
AB 1346 is expected to be brought to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in the coming weeks.