California Moves to Ban Lawnmowers | Citizens Against Government Waste

California Moves to Ban Lawnmowers

The WasteWatcher

On October 9, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 1346, the state’s latest endeavor to cut greenhouse gas emissions through onerous regulations, into law.  The law bans the sale of new gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chainsaws, among other products.  The law comes on the heels of an executive order directing the State Air Resources Board to develop a plan “to transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment” by 2035.

Even as they set lofty goals for the extinction of small gas-powered engines, both the law and the Governor’s executive order concede that their goal may be unachievable for years to come.  Even though the law decrees that the ban “shall apply to engines produced on or after January 1, 2024,” legislators included an important caveat: the ban won’t take effect until deemed “feasible” by the State Air Resources Board, a date that could come long after the law’s 2024 target.  The inclusion of this qualification demonstrates the doubts held by the legislation’s authors about the potential for regulations to accomplish their zero-emission goal.

In response to the new regulations, Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, observed that the ban would place an increased burden on landscaping professionals, most of whom use gas-powered vehicles.  In order to charge the new electronic equipment, he argued, “companies are going to have to completely retrofit their entire workshops.”  Further, landscaping crews will have to make significant adjustments to accommodate the number of batteries needed to complete a day’s work.  In addition, company owners will have to pay more to purchase equipment when their current gas-powered equipment reaches the end of its lifespan.

In response to these concerns and to accelerate the shift from gas to electric, the legislation calls upon the Air Resources Board to identify and make available “funding for commercial rebates or similar incentive funding.”  So far, the state has allocated $30 million of taxpayer money to subsidize professional landscapers’ transition from gas-powered to fully electric equipment.  State leaders have provided no evidence, however, that this taxpayer support will make the government-mandated goal of zero-emissions more “feasible.” 

The cost of this legislation will not just fall on the owners and workers of lawn care companies.  Under the ban, California taxpayers who care for their own properties will also be forced to buy more expensive zero-emission products.  In addition, they will bear the cost of the private lawn maintenance companies’ transition from gas to zero-emissions equipment.  Consequently, many Californians will not only be forced to pay more for their own lawn care but will also have to finance lawn care companies’ shift to electric equipment through increases in their taxes.

Rather than allow innovators to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, California’s efforts to ban gas-powered vehicles stifles innovation and puts taxpayers on the hook for unproven technologies.  As both legislators and Governor Newsom admit, they cannot be certain that the technologies being propped up by taxpayer funds can do the jobs required of them.  In light of such regulations, it should come as no surprise that California lost residents for the first time in history and continues to lose businesses.