This week, RCRC outlined numerous concerns to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) about the proposed transition from gas-powered Small Off-Road Engines (SORE) to zero-emission equipment (ZEE). The regulations have been proposed in response to Assembly Bill 1346 (Berman) signed by Governor Newsom several weeks ago, which requires CARB, by July 1, 2022, to adopt regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines. CARB’s proposed regulations would set emission standards for smog-forming pollutants to zero for new equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and chainsaws beginning with Model Year 2024, except for portable generators, which will have stricter emissions standards beginning in 2024 and zero-emission requirements beginning with Model Year 2028. Stationary equipment and diesel-fueled engines are not affected by these regulations, nor is the use of existing SORE equipment.
Given the unique landscapes and workforce needs in rural counties, RCRC requested that CARB create a pathway to use traditional spark-ignition SORE in rural communities and better account for rural challenges, including frequent power outages. A premature transition to zero-emission SORE equipment may, for example, impede residential and commercial efforts on a suite of wildfire preparedness efforts such as creating and maintaining fuel breaks and defensible space in forested communities, putting rural residents in a practical, logistical, and financially precarious situation in comparison to their urban neighbors.