On Saturday Oct. 9, 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will ban gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE), used primarily in lawn care equipment, as soon as 2024.

According to the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D), “The Governor’s Executive Order No. N-79-20 of Sept. 23, 2020, directs the state board to implement strategies to achieve 100% zero emissions from off-road equipment in California by 2035, where feasible and cost-effective. The state will not achieve that goal without further regulation of SORE, including a mandate to transition all sales of new equipment to zero-emission equipment.”

The bill states that in 2020, California daily nitrogen oxides (NOx) and reactive organic gases (ROG) emissions from small off-road engines were high than the 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. Without further regulatory action, those emission levels are expected to increase with increasing numbers of SORE in California.”

The bill goes on to state that operating a commercial leaf blower for one hour can emit as much ROG plus Nox as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger vehicle.

The following is to be added to the state’s Health and Safety Code:


 (a) (1) By July 1, 2022, the state board shall, consistent with federal law, adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines, as defined by the state board. Those 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.

(2) In determining technological feasibility pursuant to paragraph (1), the state board shall consider all of the following:

(A) Emissions from small off-road engines in the state.

(B) Expected timelines for zero-emission small off-road equipment development.

(C) Increased demand for electricity from added charging requirements for more zero-emission small off-road equipment.

(D) Use cases of both commercial and residential lawn and garden users.

(E) Expected availability of zero-emission generators and emergency response equipment.

(b) Consistent with the regulations adopted pursuant to this section and relevant state law, the state board shall identify, and, to the extent feasible, make available, funding for commercial rebates or similar incentive funding as part of any updates to existing, applicable funding program guidelines for districts to implement to support the transition to zero-emission small off-road equipment operations.