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California becomes first state to phase out gas-powered lawn equipment

California to phase out new gas-powered cars
California to ban sales of new gas-powered cars in 2035 01:51

California is now the first state to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers, in an effort to reduce smog-forming pollution in the state. 

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on Monday, effectively marking the beginning of the end for gas-powered small off-road engines, also known as SORE.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Lorena Gonzalez, is just one of the steps California is taking to phase out the use of gas. 

Newsom also signed an executive order last year that requires California to ban the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035. The governor's office stressed that it will still be legal to own a gas-powered vehicle or to sell one used, but California's air resources board will develop regulations to meet the deadline.

Berman and Gonzalez secured $30 million in the state's budget to create a statewide incentive program to help landscaping businesses transition to zero-emission equipment and meet the 2024 deadline.

The bill will also require the California Air Resources Board to set emissions requirements for small off-road engines to zero by 2024 or whenever the board determines is feasible. 

According to a press release from Berman's office, SORE equipment lets off high levels of oxides of nitrogen, reactive organic gases and particulate matter, which adversely impact human health. These gases can cause lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, asthma and other respiratory ailments.  

Operators of gas-powered devices could also potentially double their current cancer risk from volatile organic compounds, a 2018 study by the California Air Resources Board found. 

"By signing AB 1346, Governor Newsom has made good on his commitment to a clean energy future that protects the health of all Californians—including workers who face disproportionate health risks from air pollution," Berman said in a statement. "Coupled with $30 million in zero-emission incentives, we are ensuring an equitable transition to clean technology. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this landmark legislation to protect people and our planet."

Several environmental and health coalitions agree.

"AB 1346 will protect Californians' health by cleaning up the shockingly high pollution from small off-road engines like leaf blowers and lawn mowers," said Bill Magavern, policy director of the Coalition for Clean Air.

"Californians face the most difficult air pollution challenges in the United States, and small off-road engines are a growing source of this health burden," Will Barrett, senior director of clean air advocacy with the American Lung Association said, adding that the law accelerates a "zero-emissions pathway to healthier air and healthier lungs."

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