California moved one step closer to ending reliance on fossil fuels as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law on Sunday to ban all off-road gas-powered engines.
The new law requires the state to apply the new rule by Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators determine is “feasible,” whichever date is later, according to the bill.
The bill served as one step in the governor’s California Comeback Plan that includes a strong focus on climate change initiatives.
“In a time when the state and country are more divided than ever, this legislative session reminds us what we can accomplish together. I am thankful for our partners in the state Legislature who furthered our efforts to tackle the state’s most persistent challenges – together, we took action to address those challenges head-on, implementing historic legislation and the California Comeback Plan to hit fast forward on our state’s recovery,” Newsom said in a press release on Saturday.
“What we’re doing here in California is unprecedented in both nature and scale. We will come back from this pandemic stronger than ever before,” he added.
A ‘Massive Change’ Measure
Not all Californians approve of the new legislation. Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, argued the zero-emission commercial-grade equipment landscapers will be far too expensive.
“These companies are going to have to completely retrofit their entire workshops to be able to handle this massive change in voltage so they’re going to be charged every day,” Bray said, according to a Los Angeles Times report Saturday.
The change could strongly impact small businesses in landscaping and related industries. In addition to increased costs, the change could result in other unexpected problems, such as the need to carry charged batteries.
“Bray said a three-person landscaping crew will need to carry 30 to 40 fully charged batteries to power its equipment during a full day’s work,” according to the report.
A Small Business Disaster
The new law is expected to affect nearly 50,000 small businesses, according to The Washington Examiner. It noted that California’s budget includes $30 million for professional landscapers and gardeners to quit using gas-powered equipment, but that it would not be enough to cover the full costs.
The change is also not the only recent climate change announcement regarding gas-powered engines by Newsom. Last month, the governor signed an executive order to ban gas-powered and diesel cars by 2035.
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in the press release announcing the order. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe.