Air Resources Board Mandates 2024 Phase Out of Gas-Powered Landscape Equipment

Board rejects calls from CLCA and industry for more time to address unresolved technological and financial hurdles

On Thursday, December 9, the California Air Resources Board voted to update California’s Small Off-Road Engine Regulations, effectively banning the sale of gas-powered equipment using small off-road engines (SORE), which includes all lawn and landscape equipment in 2024.

These recently updated regulations are part of the state’s attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. California also aims to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035.

The California Landscape Contractors Association, the landscape industry association for California’s licensed landscape contractors, coordinated feedback and advocacy from California’s landscape professionals who use SORE landscape equipment daily.

“CLCA’s members were candid and forthcoming about their concerns for such an accelerated timeline to ban the sale of SORE landscape equipment starting in the model year 2024,” said Sandra Giarde, CLCA’s executive director. “The reality is that the currently available battery-powered commercial landscape equipment has a way to go before meeting the needs of the full-time landscape professional. California’s landscape industry supports the transition to zero-emission equipment, but a 2024 deadline is too soon, given numerous unresolved technological and financial hurdles.”

“We felt our compromise solution could achieve the state’s 2031 emission reduction goals while reducing the impacts on landscape professionals. We remain disappointed that the (California Air Resources Board) board members did not concur.”

Sandra Giarde, CLCA Executive Director

CLCA worked with a national coalition of associations and industry groups to lead the charge for a compromise solution that would have ended the sale of residential landscape SORE by 2024 and allowed commercial SORE to be sold until 2028. This commonsense compromise would give equipment manufacturers enough time to increase performance and improve battery life while bringing down costs for commercial landscape professionals.

“With 85 percent of the SORE landscape equipment in California belonging to residential users, we felt our compromise solution could achieve the state’s 2031 emission reduction goals while reducing the impacts on landscape professionals,” says Giarde, “We remain disappointed that the board members did not concur.”

“I am proud of the advocation efforts made by CLCA’s staff and members, said Paul Hansen, CLCA’s State President.” “Despite today’s decision by CARB members, CLCA will continue efforts to ensure adequate funding will be made available for rebate programs and tax credits to ease the transition.”

“The Legislature only appropriated $30 million for rebate programs, which would be about $15 per piece of equipment for professionals, Giarde said. “With California facing a $3 billion budget surplus, we will be working to secure additional funds to help landscape professionals make the transition.”

As passed, the updated SORE regulation would allow users of gas-powered landscape equipment to continue to use their equipment. However, it would only allow zero-emission equipment to be sold starting in the model year 2024.