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CARB approves zero emission regulations for small off-road engines

10 December 2021

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a regulation that will require most newly manufactured small off-road engines (SORE) rated at or below 19 kW such as those found in leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other equipment be zero emission starting in 2024. Portable generators, including those in recreational vehicles, would be required to meet more stringent standards in 2024 and meet zero-emission standards starting in 2028.

The new measure amends CARB’s existing small off-road engine regulations first adopted in 1990. CARB was directed to develop the regulation by Assembly Bill 1346 adopted in October.

The amended regulation will set California SORE emission standards to zero in two phases:

Incentive funds will be available to commercial purchasers of new zero-emission equipment through CARB’s Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project (CORE), which was created to accelerate deployment of cleaner off-road technologies. The Legislature has allocated $30 million to be dedicated to sole proprietors and other small landscaping businesses in California to help them purchase zero-emission small off-road equipment, including leaf blowers, lawn mowers and string trimmers.

The volume of smog-forming emissions from small off-road engines and equipment in California has surpassed emissions from light-duty passenger cars, according to CARB, and is projected to be nearly twice those of passenger cars by 2031. Today, a commercial operator using one backpack leaf blower for one hour generates the same smog-forming emissions as a car driving 1100 miles.

The new requirements will impact new equipment only. Californians can continue to operate their current CARB-compliant gasoline-powered SORE equipment; there will be no “ban” on using older models or used equipment purchased in the future, CARB said. Older models on store shelves can also be purchased even if they are gasoline-powered.

Source: CARB