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California to ban small off-road gasoline engines

12 October 2021

California governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will outlaw the sale of new gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE) used in equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, welders, and generators, from being sold in the state, as early as 2024.

Assembly Bill 1346 directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to “adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines,” by July 1, 2022. The regulations shall apply to engines produced on or after January 1, 2024, or “as soon as the state board determines is feasible, whichever is later.” SORE engines are defined by CARB as spark-ignition engines rated at or below 19 kW (25.5 hp).

The “technical feasibility” will be determined based on a number of factors, including emissions from small off-road engines in the state; expected timelines for zero-emissions small off-road equipment development; increased demand for electricity from added charging requirements for more zero-emission small off-road equipment; use cases of both commercial and residential lawn and garden users; and expected availability of zero-emission generators and emergency response equipment.

The bill also states that “currently, there are zero-emission equivalents to all SORE equipment regulated by the State Air Resources Board. The battery technology required for commercial-grade zero-emission equipment is available and many users, both commercial and residential, have already begun to transition to zero-emission equipment.”

CARB announced it will conduct a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the SORE regulations on December 9, 2021. The proposed amendments would set emission standards for smog-forming pollutants to zero beginning with model year (MY) 2024 for all new SORE except for portable generator engines. The proposed amendments would set more stringent emission standards for portable generator engines beginning with MY 2024, and emission standards of zero for portable generators beginning with MY 2028.

The bill notes that in 2020, California daily NOx and ROG (reactive organic gases) emissions from SORE were higher than emissions from light-duty passenger cars. SORE emitted an average of 16.8 tons per day of NOx and 125 tons per day of ROG.

The bill requires CARB to identify and make available funding for commercial rebates or similar incentives to support the transition to zero-emission small off-road equipment operations.

Source: Assembly Bill No. 1346