A Fresh New Year Means Fresh New Restrictions on Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

As fresh fallen leaves, the new regulations on gas-powered landscaping equipment blanket the nation.

Washington, D.C., welcomed the New Year with a ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers. This was a city ordinance passed in 2018. Starting January 1, all gas-powered leaf blowers used in Washington, D.C. will be banned.

Just a few weeks prior, the California Air Resources Board (CARB)—the state’s primary air pollution regulator—voted to ban the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers beginning in 2024.

CARB has not ruled that gas-powered landscaping tools can be prohibited. However, a growing number of states, such as Oakland and Hayward have passed municipal bans in recent years.

Some critics of leaf blowers claim that they emit too much noise and are more harmful than what is needed to maintain a clean lawn and clear sidewalks.

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I hear complaints from neighbors all the time about noise and nuisance that the blower creates. It makes them unable to work and prevents them from enjoying their peace in their homes,” Mary Cheh, D.C. City Councilmember during the 2018 hearing regarding the city’s proposed leaf blower ban.

The D.C. council report for that year stated that 170 municipalities have restricted or banned gas-powered leafblowers. And that number is growing. As of 2020, at least 60 California municipalities had passed regulations prohibiting these machines.

These policies are extremely well-written in this crusade to quieter areas.

Princeton, New Jersey. It was adopted an ordinance prohibiting the use of noise-creating, gas-powered equipment or blowers, power fan, or internal combustion engine during the early mornings and nights of Sundays and holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

A few Twitter users wondered if Princeton had accidentally prohibited traditional gas-powered vehicles by including “internal combustion engine” in their list.

Gregory Shill (a University of Iowa College of Law professor) wrote that while I can understand how some would interpret it in this manner, the Princeton leafblower ordinance isn’t banning internal combustion cars.

Shill says There are reasons The general purpose of the city ordinance is to regulate landscaping equipment. Therefore, the legal principle “ejusdem généris” doesn’t mean that the common phrase about “internal burning engines” can’t be understood as prohibiting any gas-powered engine from being used in the city.

He says, “In summary, this is great news for Princeton residents that were concerned about their gas-powered vehicles.”

These restrictions, however, are prompting complaints from landscaping professionals who claim that the emissionless, electric-powered leaf blowers being used to replace them are not adequate.

A representative of one industry was cited in the Los Angeles TimesAccording to the company, a landscaping team of three would have to keep 30 to 40 batteries fully charged to power their equipment for full days.

A D.C. city government report notes that most battery-powered leaf blowers can only operate for about 10–15 minutes at full power (or an hour at lower-power settings) and that corded leaf blowers often lacked the range needed for commercial-scale landscaping.

While electric-powered blowers can be used by homeowners, the current market for them is not powerful enough to take the place of gasoline engines. This was Bob Mann’s representative from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. He spoke before the D.C. City Council when they were considering banning the device.

Neben the financial burden that is placed upon businesses, bans on gas leaf blower use also come with a higher emotional cost.

In 2020 I stated that a lawn well-kept and maintained by noisy, gas-guzzling machinery has been an American symbol of liberty, success, and the American Dream.

It is clear that policymakers are willing to give up a part of America’s dream in exchange for some domestic peace and quiet.