A gas-powered leaf blower buzzing away for an hour produces as much air pollution as driving your car from Los Angeles to Denver, so it’s little surprise that state legislators passed a law this year , which forced the transition to electricity for equipment, as well as lawnmowers, edgers, pressure washers, chainsaws and generators.
In fact, such tiny gas-powered devices surpassed passenger cars in the amount of smog-forming emissions created in California this year, and will double by 2031, according to California Air, from state gas. Distances itself from moving vehicles. Resource Board.
“Since these (power tools) haven’t cleaned up the way other pollution sources do, they have become a major source of emissions,” said William Barrett of the American Lung Association.
But if you thought the New Testament would be enforced without a fight, think again.
The Air Resources Board has recommended that most new sales of small, gas-powered equipment be zero emissions by 2024. But landscape maintenance companies argue that the expense of buying new gear could put smaller operators out of business. They are also demanding a longer time period for the transition because current zero-emissions technology is not as efficient as gas and the battery life is too short.
“Anyone who has used an electric blower knows that it requires multiple batteries to do just one house,” John McCabe, owner of McCabe Landscape Construction in Murrieta, said in a letter to the board. “They use a lot of electrical power. Each battery is over $100. So if a small company is building 20 houses a day, you’ll need $2,000 for each crew member.”
A public hearing on the new rule is scheduled for December 9 and 10 at the Air Resources Board meeting. While this year’s law calls for phasing out gas engines, it left the decision on the time frame up to the board.
Other changes coming
The crackdown on small powered devices is one of three upcoming changes backed by clean air advocates.
The board’s December meeting is also expected to vote on a comprehensive smog check system for heavy-duty trucks, which are currently not required to conduct smog tests. Although large rigs account for only 3% of vehicular traffic in the state, they produce more than half of smog and soot emissions, according to board statistics.
“It’s the big enchilada,” said Bill McGovern of the Coalition for Clean Air. “This will be the biggest reduction in emissions in 12 years.”
The third measure under consideration of the Board would be creating new regulations for commercial port craft, including commercial sportfishing and whale watching boats, tugboats, ferries and barges. The board held a public hearing on the issue on November 19 and is expected to vote in a phased manner in low-pollution engines early next year.
Southern California has long had some of the worst air quality in the nation, despite the state boasting the nation’s most comprehensive emissions regulations. According to a report from Environment California, this puts residents at an increased risk of premature death, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, cancer, immune deficiencies, and issues related to fertility and pregnancy.
Environmental groups support the proposed changes because emissions include greenhouse gases that fuel climate change and the health hazards experienced by low-income workers and neighborhoods, including those near industrial ports and freeways. Huh.
Landscape businesses aren’t the only ones complaining about proposed regulations for gas-electric equipment. Others that have written letters opposing the board include window cleaners, commercial cleaners that use power washers, small-engine appliance dealers, and a non-profit that uses chainsaws and bush cutters to clean trails in the wild. Uses up.
But the yard keepers seem to be most affected. Even one who has started using some battery-powered devices has written in to say that 2024 is too soon to transition to electric blowers and mowers.
“These apply to smaller projects where the service is only an hour or two and apply to homeowners, not commercial use,” wrote Martin Schaefer of Panorama City’s Crestview Landscape Services. “We’ve found that battery technology has yet to reach these types of devices.”
MeGovern’s focus continues to be on cleaning the air. But he also noted that people can continue to use the equipment they have, regardless of the timing for new sales approved by the Air Resources Board.
“I agree that the transition will present some challenges, but it is possible,” Magovern said. “Keep in mind that the need for new sales is still 2-plus years away, and existing equipment will not be affected.”
The National Association of Landscape Professionals is asking the board for a two-pronged approach: implement the new rule in 2024 for private residential users, but let commercial users continue to use gas-powered equipment, also known as small off-road equipment. For is called SORE.
“Of the approximately 13 million gas-powered SOREs in California today, 85% are owned and operated by residential users,” the trade group says in the position statement. “Commercial Scenario Businesses use only a small percentage, 15% of devices in the state, yet they will bear a significant burden of infection.”
This is not an option that the board’s staff has considered, although they have mentioned the option of delaying implementation for all buyers of new equipment until 2028. It noted that the approach, called the Small Business Option, would result in 84% of such instruments. There will be zero emissions by 2035, while the 2024 deadline will result in 93% having no emissions by 2035.
Another example of the high emissions created by smaller engines is operating a gas-powered lawnmower for an hour, which the board said generates the same amount of air pollutants as driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
“The significant additional stringency in SORE’s California regulations is appropriate in light of California’s unique air quality concerns,” board staff wrote. “Even the small business option will fail to maximize the health benefits that can be achieved.”