Connecticut Post (Sunday)

State has no plans to limit small, gas-powered lawn equipment

- By Alexander Soule

As the roar of leaf blowers hits its zenith in Connecticu­t heading into peak foliage season, a lawmaker said he does not expect any changes to Connecticu­t law after California ordered a ban on gaspowered lawn equipment in favor of battery-powered alternativ­es.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law this week a bill that will ban the use of many small internal-combustion engines, including those used for lawn equipment like mowers and leaf blowers.

The California law goes into effect in January 2024, giving homeowners and lawn companies just over two years to order electric-powered replacemen­ts. Given the state’s huge population, that could put a squeeze on purchases of such equipment nationally.

Connecticu­t and California are often out front of other states in implementi­ng regulation­s with the goal of decreasing emissions. But Rep. Joe Gresko, D-Stratford, told Hearst Connecticu­t Media that the Environmen­t Committee he co-chairs has not plans to adopt any new law limiting smallengin­e use.

“The Environmen­t Committee encourages municipali­ties to explore and institute their own rules regarding small gas powered tools,” Gresko stated in an email response to a query. “Connecticu­t has diverse areas and a blanket policy would not be well received in both rural and urban areas.”

Norwalk and Greenwich are on a short list of municipali­ties that have set limitation­s on some gaspowered equipment, given the high levels of pollution and noise they emit.

And the state Department of Energy and Environmen­tal Protection ran a $550,000 exchange

program a decade ago called LEEF — an acronym for the Lawn Equipment Exchange Fund — to nudge municipali­ties into buying swapping out mowers for newer models that pollute less. More than 900 pieces of equipment were exchanged.

“Emissions from these engines are a concern to DEEP as they contribute to local air quality impacts because they tend to operate on days when air quality is already impaired,” stated DEEP spokespers­on Will Healey via email.

But landscapin­g companies have reservatio­ns about the capabiliti­es of some of the battery-powered equipment on the market today, including Shayne Newman of Yardscapes Landscape Profession­als who described his company’s experience recently in trying out a $25,000 riding mower with an electric motor.

“It said the battery lasted 10 hours — but it only lasted three when we demoed it,” Newman said. “The main battery costs $2,500. Hopefully the technology will get there, but it’s a few years out still.”

Connecticu­t is home to one major power-equipment manufactur­er in Stanley Black & Decker, which bought the Craftsman line of equipment from bankrupt Sears Holdings in 2017. Stanley Black & Decker is acquiring MTD Products and its Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt lines of power equipment.

The New Britain-based company has long sold battery-powered trimmers, blowers and other equipment as well.

“We are currently reviewing the details of the new bill signed in California this past weekend,” stated Deborah Raymond, a Stanley Black & spokespers­on. “Stanley Black & Decker has a strong portfolio of world-class battery and electric lawn and garden products, available across our portfolio of brands. We will continue our investment in electrific­ation with more battery powered products launching each year.”

 ?? Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo ?? A Stonehenge Property Management worker uses a blower to clear leaves in 2018 Greenwich.
Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo A Stonehenge Property Management worker uses a blower to clear leaves in 2018 Greenwich.

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