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Washington State Democrat Bill Would Jail People For Violating Ban On Gas Leaf Blowers

Washington state Democrats are proposing to outlaw new gas-powered lawn equipment, like leaf blowers, with legislation that could land violators in jail.

A bill pre-filed by state Rep. Amy Walen, would amend the state’s Clean Air Act to ban new “gasoline-powered and diesel-powered landscaping and other outdoor power equipment.” The bill states that gas-powered lawn equipment contributes to climate change and claims such tools cause a range of health problems, including asthma, hearing loss and other issues, KTTH’s Jason Rantz reported.

Under the proposed law, the Washington state Department of Ecology would have a Jan. 1, 2026, deadline to “adopt rules to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new outdoor power equipment.” The bill carries limited exemptions for gas-powered equipment used by government agencies and for commercial or residential use when there is no “suitable zero emissions outdoor power equipment technology” available.

Violations of the law would constitute a gross misdemeanor under Washington state penal code and carry fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 364 days per instance.

To ease the transition away from fossil-fuel powered equipment, the bill would temporarily lift state sales and use taxes on “zero emissions landscaping equipment,” which includes battery-powered or plug-in lawn equipment, as well as “lawn mowers powered solely by human effort.”

Similar efforts to ban small gas-powered equipment have been introduced in California and Minnesota as Democratic lawmakers seek to curb carbon emissions. These bans typically target new gas-powered equipment, permitting people to keep and use tools they already own.

In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a ban on selling gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers, starting in 2024. The California Air Resources Board also decided that all new vehicles in the state will run on electric batteries by 2035.

However, critics say that when the time comes to buy new equipment, consumer choices will be limited and may be prohibitively expensive. Landscaping businesses face a steep upfront cost to transition to battery-powered equipment. A commercial electric backpack leaf blower may cost $100 or more than a comparable gas version, the Orange County Register reported. And a 52-inch-wide ride-on electric mower manufactured by Mean Green Mowers starts at almost $30,000, which is more than three times as expensive as a comparable gas-powered machine, NPR reported.