On Thursday, Dec. 9, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) approved the proposed amendments to the Small Off-Road Engine Regulations: Transition to Zero Emissions, which would ban the sale of virtually all carbon-emitting landscape equipment beginning with model-year 2024.
The meeting went on for nearly 6 hours. NALP along with 60 other associations, including the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the California Landscape Contractors Association, represented the industry’s concerns and testified against the proposal. Over 600 comments were included in the written docket as well.
While the landscape industry supports reducing carbon emissions as quickly as possible, NALP has advocated for CARB to delay the transition for commercial users to allow time to get the electrical infrastructure in place, allow the equipment to advance, and provide a longer transition time for businesses to adapt. Read our public statement.
Landscape professionals are committed stewards of the environment and work every day to care for green spaces that sequester carbon and produce oxygen among many other benefits.
Despite the strong objections to the 2024 date, CARB approved the proposal. Now CARB will have to go through a process with EPA to get the waiver approved. NALP will share data with the EPA about the difficulty industry companies will have transitioning by the 2024 deadline.
One change that occurred during the meeting is that CARB will create an industry task force to review the implementation annually. NALP has been asked to be part of the task group.
For those concerned that other states will follow California’s lead, this is not possible as they are preempted by federal law with the Clean Air Act. Only California is permitted to create regulations relating to emissions.
It’s also important to understand that while this proposal will ban the sale of new gas-powered equipment using small off-road engines, this does not prevent landscape professionals from using their existing gas-powered equipment well beyond 2024.
All parties did agree that the reimbursement needs to be more adequately funded as the current funding level equals a $15 reimbursement for each piece of commercial landscape equipment currently in use – when new battery-powered mowers can cost over $20,000.
Andrew Bray, VP of government relations for NALP, says they plan to talk with legislators in the state capitol about increasing this amount. He says they’ll also talk with federal lawmakers about trying to ease this transition as more companies are looking to make this transition.
“I think we as an industry need to continue to embrace new technologies and new practices,” Bray says. “I do think that this transition to non-carbon emitting products is inevitable. My advice would be to start looking at this and try to figure out how it could work because while California has until 2024, I think it’s safe to think that by the end of this decade, most of the industry will likely have made the transition.”