Another ban from California: Say goodbye to most new gas-powered lawn and garden equipment

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California is not just banning gas-powered vehicles and trying to ban diesel locomotives. The state is also banning the sale of new gas-powered small off-road engines (SOREs), such as gas-powered lawnmowers and other landscaping equipment, in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions.  

In 2021, the state legislature passed Assembly Bill 1346 which authorizes the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to issue regulations on SOREs. CARB has banned the sale of most new SOREs starting in 2024. Other gas-powered equipment, specifically generators and large pressure washers, will be banned in 2028.

This SORE ban is first and foremost an attack on individual freedom, limiting the ability of Californians to choose what lawn equipment and other products best meet their needs.

Also, the increased electrification of California’s grid could be a recipe for disaster considering that the state already deals with rolling blackouts and must occasionally ask residents to cut back on energy consumption.

Moreover, this ban removes existing gas competitors. By having less competition, electric manufacturers have less incentive to improve their products and innovate. We didn’t get cars and trains by banning horses and covered wagons. Similarly, we won’t get better electric powered equipment by banning gas-powered equipment. Having competition in the marketplace leads to better, cheaper products.  

Electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and snow blowers are on the market and are popular with certain consumers. However, these products aren’t for everyone. Landscaping companies and people who are plagued by multiple feet of snow can’t always depend on electric powered tools. The California Landscape Contractors Association has said “most of the zero-emission equipment is not yet ready to handle the workload of a full workday.” Also, CARB itself estimates that professional users are expected to bear $1.29 billion for the cost of transitioning to electric.

This bill will have no measurable effect on global temperatures, but the results will be reduced freedom, fewer choices, and higher costs. It’s another example of how authoritative regulations can hurt businesses and inconvenience Americans for little or no benefit.

Legislators in states such as Minnesota and Washington are trying to pass similar measures to California. Hopefully, the problems this California SORE ban causes will make them wary of making the same mistake.