DENVER — Your lawn could be the next battleground against climate change. And the parks. And playgrounds.
Regulators and clean air advocates are increasingly looking at the pollution emitted by small gasoline engines used to power lawn mowers and leaf blowers as they seek to mitigate climate change. Proponents say that running a commercial gas-powered leaf blower for an hour produces emissions equivalent to driving from Denver to Los Angeles.
Among cities and states with bans or limits: California; Burlington, Vermont; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington, D.C.
While many critics initially attacked small engines for the noise they make, experts say these small two-stroke engines release shocking amounts of pollution – two problems that modern electrical equipment and increasingly affordable solve.
The absence of noisy leaf blowers is already being felt in Washington. “You used to hear them all day, everywhere you went. And now you don’t,” said Susan Orlins, who helped pass DC’s toughest ban on leaf blowers. essence.
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Which states and cities have decided to ban gas powered lawn equipment?
California has already taken the biggest step by banning engines, which are officially known as “small off-road engines” or SORE. California’s ban will pass next year and bans the sale of new small gasoline engines. People can continue to use the ones they already own and can resell the used ones.
Washington, D.C. has a much stricter ban, prohibiting the use of gas-powered blowers by anyone in the district starting Jan. 1, 2022, and imposing $500 fines on violators unless they are on federal property. The DC ban also allows anyone who sees or hears a gas-powered leaf blower to file a complaint — they don’t need a city inspector to witness it.
Denver-area regulators are considering restrictions that primarily target large commercial and municipal users, but provide exemptions for homeowners. The ban in the Denver area aims to reduce ozone pollution, which causes breathing difficulties while contributing to climate change.
The residential retail market is already responding and most hardware stores and big box stores are now selling electrical equipment.
“For the majority of residents who own single-family homes, everything will be electric, all day,” said Daniel Mabe, founder and president of the American Green Zone Alliance.
AGZA advises organizations and governments on best practices to adopt when transitioning to electrical equipment, but takes no position on bans or restrictions.
Why are gas powered lawn equipment banned?
Experts say lawn and garden equipment accounts for about 85% of all SOREs in service today nationwide, and these engines are typically made without the pollution controls used on cars.
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Virtually all small engines are two-strokes, which burn a dirtier fuel mixture than vehicles. Proponents say that in addition to climate change emissions released by engines, workers are directly exposed to their exhaust and rarely wear a filter to protect their lungs.
Other people complain about the noise they make, especially when so many suburban residents are now working from home.
“The transition to battery-powered landscaping equipment is a more sustainable alternative that would bring us closer to meeting climate action goals and reduce harmful health effects,” says California-based group San Diegans for Sustainable, Equitable. & Quiet Equipment in Landscaping.
What is the disadvantage of electric lawn equipment?
Reviewers say battery-powered machines aren’t as powerful as gas-powered ones and also fear having to buy new equipment, which is usually more expensive.
Mabe said someone starting a small landscaping business could buy the gas-powered equipment needed for around $6,000, but electric equivalents could cost three times as much.
He added that organizations going electric will need more space to store and charge batteries, and may also need to upgrade their electricity service to meet overnight charging demand.
Proponents argue that a major state like California’s switch to electrical equipment will create a market that international manufacturers can rely on, lowering prices overall as other states and cities enact similar bans. Like the District of Columbia, California provides grants to small businesses that replace gas-powered equipment with electric equipment.
What if I want to keep my petrol mower or blower?
Most of the existing proposals only limit the sale of new gas-powered equipment and allow people to continue using what they already own.
But supporters say the transition to electric equipment is inevitable as the United States strives to limit greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Orlins said she loaned her lawn care workers money so they could upgrade to battery-powered equipment.
“We decided we had to take that first step and we’re all thrilled about it,” she added.