Having apparently solved all other problems in the Golden State, California Governor Gavin Newsom is preparing to sign yet another bill into law designed to save humanity from itself and halt climate change in its tracks. But what is there left to do away with? He’s already shut down much of the power grid whenever it gets cloudy or the wind dies out. Cars that aren’t electric will soon be a thing of the past and there will be no new construction of gas stations allowed by the end of the decade. How much more can one man do? Plenty, as it turns out. Newsom will ban the sale of small engines that burn gasoline and the ban could be kicking in very soon indeed. This would involve everything from lawnmowers and weed trimmers to electrical generators and even chainsaws. The final date of enactment hasn’t been identified precisely, but it could be as soon as three years from now.
California will soon ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers after Governor Gavin Newsom signed off on the new law on Saturday.
The move is aimed at curbing emissions from a category of small engines on pace to produce more pollution each year than passenger vehicles.
The gas-powered equipment to be banned uses small off-road engines, a broad category that includes generators, lawn equipment, pressure washers, chainsaws, weed trimmers and even golf carts.
The new law will require all such products to be “zero-emission” so they will only be allowed to be sold if they run off batteries or can be plugged in. As to the ambiguity of the date of enactment, a study is currently taking place to determine the impact this will have on small businesses. Newsom wants to see the rule in place by January 1, 2024, or “as soon as regulators determine is ‘feasible,’ whichever date is later.”
So how feasible is it? According to trade associations representing lawn care companies (the vast majority of which are small businesses), it’s not feasible at all. They note that battery-powered riding lawnmowers cost, on average, twice as much as the ones using internal combustion engines. Making matters worse, the battery models are only half as efficient. They don’t have anywhere near the same range before requiring recharging as you get out of a standard model with one tank of gas. And it takes a lot longer to recharge than it does to refill the fuel tank, so major equipment will be sidelined for far longer.
It’s true that this bill only bans the sale of new machinery, so lawn care companies would be able to keep using their existing fleet of equipment for as long as they can keep the machines running. But eventually, all of the existing machines will have to go. The bill includes $30 million to help small businesses make the adjustment, but those same industry representatives say that we’re talking about more than 50,000 businesses in the state. That works out to approximately $600 each.
At a quick glance, you will find that a single, larger-model riding mower costs more than $2,000 for a conventional, gas-powered model. The electric versions cost twice as much. And most lawn care companies have to have more than one. This doesn’t even take into account all of the leaf blowers, lawn edgers, and hedge trimmers they use. Offering them $600 to make the transition is an insulting joke.
It’s not just lawn care that will take a hit on this, however. This will also impact the generators that people use to provide power when the lights go out. And that happens a lot in California, particularly since Newsom’s previous “green” orders went into place. As we’ve discussed here in the past, people who are on home oxygen, dialysis, or other medical equipment who lose their power can be in big trouble fast. Will the state offer them an exemption to keep their generators? I see no mention of this.
It's not just Newsome's fault, although I'm sure he was all for it. If the legislature hadn't voted for the bill, he couldn't sign it.
They voted poorly.