Senators Seek Support of Bills Silencing Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment
By Rick Pezzullo —
Two state senators joined Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray at Devries Park Nov. 3 to bring attention to bills that would pull the plug on gas-powered lawn and landscaping equipment within the next five years.
Several years ago, Sleepy Hollow became one of the first municipalities in New York to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 1 to Sept. 30.
Wray said the action by the Village Board was necessary because noisy leaf blowers in residential areas had become “incredibly annoying.” He praised senators Pete Harckham, who represents Sleepy Hollow, and Liz Krueger, and Assemblymember Steve Englebright, for introducing their legislation in Albany.
“These seemingly small steps are becoming increasingly more important as we try to achieve substantial progress in fighting climate change,” Wray said.
Harckham’s bill would require all in-state sales of new lawn care and landscaping equipment, such as mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers, be zero emissions by 2027. The bill is modeled after legislation passed in California, which goes into effect in 2022.
“We’re not asking people to do something they can’t do,” Harckham said as a blaring leaf blower could be heard in the vicinity. “The tremendous amount of air pollutants caused by the use of gas-powered landscaping devices will not decrease until we begin to seriously transition to zero emission equipment. New York should not wait any longer to ensure progress on this issue.”
The bill co-sponsored by Krueger and Englebright would create an Electric Landscaping Equipment Rebate Program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The bill would offer point-of-sale rebates up to $15,000 annually for commercial landscapers and institutional users, and up to $300 annually for individuals who purchase battery-powered electric landscaping equipment.
“This is a problem with a solution,” Krueger remarked. “We can’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. As electric and battery-operated landscaping equipment becomes easier to use and more readily available, transitioning away from gas-powered devices will be that much easier.”
Harckham noted the five-year implementation to zero emissions in the bill takes into consideration the need for landscapers to recoup investments on recently purchased gas-powered equipment.
Several environmental advocates expressed their support for the legislation at Wednesday’s press conference.
“We applaud the introduction of these two bills demonstrating a strong commitment to New York’s climate law and goals, improving our air quality and protecting our health,” said Ellen Weininger, director of educational outreach at Grassroots Environmental Education. “Gas leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscaping equipment are significant sources of toxic air pollutants.”
“If New York hopes to reach its ambitious climate goals, we need to actively decarbonize every sector. This includes landscaping equipment, which is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.