While most emission regulations have been focused on electrifying road-going, everyday vehicles, California Governor Gavin Newsom has expressed his concern towards a rather unsuspecting carbon emission contributor as he signed legislation aimed at banning smaller gas-powered equipment irrelevant to transport. The ban will include the use of gas-powered lawn equipment, generators, and other off-road equipment that contributes to CO2 emissions.
The regulation is a result of an executive order signed by Governor Newsom in 2020 that will ban the sale of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles by 2035. Newsom calls for a future with “100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment” by as soon as 2024, and has held the California Air Resources Board (CARB) responsible for its implementation.
The bill is specifically aimed at banning all small off-road engines (SORE), mostly emergency response equipment, generators, and commercial lawn equipment. But The Drive reports that CARB defines the SORE category as off-road spark-ignition engines that produce up to 25hp or less. This means that the list of banned equipment extends far beyond the focused products. some examples include industrial equipment, logging, golf carts, and so on.
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According to a fact sheet supplied by CARB, California is currently home to 16.7 million small engines, dwarfing the 13.7 passenger vehicles in the state. This number of small engines is said to have a herculean impact on emission control. To put that into perspective CARB says that using a leaf blower for no more than an hour is the equivalent of driving a 2017 Toyota Camry well over a thousand miles.
While the push for this ban seems to pave a clear path towards a greener future, there will be a significant impact on small businesses that focus on the production and sales of these products. Marc Berman, the author of the legislation, wasn’t hesitant to admit that the transition towards battery-powered equipment is sure to affect some businesses but said that California will pledge $30 million to their aid — but is that enough?
While costs are one concern — a gas-powered commercial lawnmower could cost between $7,000–$11,000, while the electric equivalent could be twice that — there’s also a logistics element. That’s because extra batteries will need to be carried and transported for commercial jobs, which would require more staff. Businesses would also need to upgrade their workshops to cater to the daily recharging requirements. There’s also the question of emergency fuel-burning generators, which are still the best solution for backup power.