After California became the first U.S. state to ban gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers earlier this year, more states, including New York and Illinois, are mulling over similar measures.
How quickly other states follow suit depends on the companies that make electric lawn care equipment, one expert told CBS News.
“I think the easier the manufacturers make it for other states to adopt the same sort of ban, the more states will do it,” University of Southern California environmental law professor Robin Craig told CBS News correspondent Anthony Pura.
California and cities across the nation have been banning gas-powered leaf blowers and mowers because of the air pollution those devices emit. Brookline, Massachusetts, has a seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, as does Montclair, New Jersey, and Burlington, Vermont.
Leaders in those communities have been urging homeowners and landscapers to use electric-powered devices instead, and the advice appears to be sticking. Demand for electric powered lawn equipment is expected to grow into a $14.1 billion industry by 2024, according to market research from the Freedonia Group.
Emissions equal to driving a car
Gas-powered tools emit pollutants that could lead to lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems, California lawmakers say. Using a gas-powered lawn mower for an hour generates the same amount of emissions roughly as a car driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Lawmakers in Illinois last year introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban the operation or sale of gas-powered leaf blowers. The measure is still undergoing amendments. A similar bill in New York, introduced two months ago, now sits in a state Senate committee.
Some landscapers say they’re open to switching to electric devices, but that battery-powered hedgers and leaf blowers don’t yet pack enough power.
Andrew Bray, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Professional Landscapers, told the Associated Press that some of the devices cannot finish a day’s work without being recharged multiple times, Bray said.
“With leaf blowers, for example, they don’t yet have the battery power needed for commercial use,” Bray said.
Still, lawn care professionals like David Hernandez of Sod and Turf Pros in Los Angeles, see emissions-free electric tools as the future. Said Hernandes, “You won’t be having all that gas up in your nose, you won’t be inhaling it — because I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”
Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.
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