List of Equipment Affected by Gavin Newsom's Ban on Small Engines

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law on October 9 that will likely see a variety of engine-powered equipment banned in the state as part of a push to reduce air pollution.

The law aims to eliminate the sale of equipment that uses small off-road engines (SORE) by January 1, 2024, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is now charged with putting in place a plan to implement the ban.

A wide variety of everyday items will be affected, some referenced specifically in the bill as written by the state legislature, and ordinary Californians may have to make changes as the law is brought into force.

The law does not provide a comprehensive list of equipment that the new regulations will encompass but it is clear that the effects will be widespread.

Lawn Equipment and Generators

Perhaps the most common equipment set to be affected by the law will be gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers.

New sales of lawnmowers and leaf blowers that use SORE will ultimately be banned. Other common items affected will include power washers and backup generators.

The law requires CARB to "adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines."

Generators and emergency response equipment would also be affected.

The text of the newly passed bill said the board should consider "Use cases of both commercial and residential lawn and garden users" as well as "Expected availability of zero-emission generators and emergency response equipment."

Golf Carts and Industrial Equipment

Small off-road engines are used widely in machines beyond lawn equipment. CARB's website explains that the SORE category "consists of off-road spark-ignition engines that produce 19 kilowatts gross power or less (25 horsepower or less)."

The engines are used in "lawn and garden, industrial, logging, airport ground support, and commercial utility equipment, golf carts, and specialty vehicles," according to the board.

A factsheet about SORE prepared by CARB notes that there are 16.7 million small engines in California and that number is greater than the number of light-duty passenger cars, which stands at 13.7 million.

CARB's factsheet also says those small engines are "comprised of 77% residential lawn and garden equipment, 9% commercial lawn and garden equipment, 11% federally regulated construction/farming equipment, and 3% other equipment types (e.g., generators, utility carts)."

Sports Vehicles

It is not yet clear how the SORE ban would affect other equipment such as off-road recreational vehicles and sports vehicles including dirt bikes and ATVs. Most of these vehicles have engines that exceed 25 horsepower, however, according to The Drive, a specialist automotive news site.

The new law follows a 2020 executive order from Newsom that bans the sale of gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035 and called for "100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment." Regulators in California also approved a new rule last year to require all commercial trucks and delivery vehicles sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2045.

Gavin Newsom Speaks During a News Conference
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference after meeting with students at James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Newsom has signed a new law aimed at phasing out small off-road engines by 2024. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images