Washington State Lawmakers Introduce Bill Banning New Gas-Powered Lawn Mowers, With Violators Facing Jail Time


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New legislation is seeking to make gas-powered lawn equipment like leaf blowers illegal to use beginning in 2026, with violators potentially facing a fine or jail time.

House Bill 1868, which related to reducing emissions from outdoor power equipment, was introduced by Washington state Reps. Amy Walen and Liz Berry, both Democrats, on Dec. 5.

Under the measure, operating a new gas-powered lawn mower or leaf blower produced on or after Jan. 1, 2026 would be deemed a gross misdemeanor punishable by prison time.

Violators of the law would be subject to penalties provided in the Revised Code of Washington, consisting of a fine of up to $10,000 and one year in jail, or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 364 days, or by both for each separate violation.

The term “outdoor power equipment” is defined in the bill as “equipment designed or marketed for use in an outdoor setting in the management of vegetation, landscaped outdoor spaces, or built spaces that is powered by an engine that produces a gross horsepower of less than 25 or is designed to produce less than 25 horsepower.”

This includes vegetation-cutting equipment, leaf blowers, leaf shredders, leaf vacuums, soil tillers, soil cultivators, wood chippers, pressure washers, snowblowers, and more.

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Meanwhile, “vegetation cutting equipment” includes lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, brush cutters, and more.

According to 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.”

Pollution Tied to Gas-Powered Equipment


“Gasoline-powered and diesel-powered landscaping and other outdoor power equipment emit a host of air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants, contributing to climate change and negatively impacting public health,” the bill states.

The measure cites one calculation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that gas-powered garden mowers contribute 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. The EPA also estimates that over 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment.

“Nationally, the Department of Transportation data shows that one hour of running a gas lawnmower can contribute as much smog-forming pollution as driving a passenger car 300 miles,” the bill continues. “One hour of running a gas leaf blower can contribute as much smog-forming pollution as driving a passenger car 1,100 miles.”

The lawmakers also list a number of health issues they claim are tied to new gas-powered lawn equipment, including that they cause asthma, hearing loss, and “other health issues, especially for workers who regularly use them.”

Additionally, the noise from gas-powered equipment can be a nuisance, the lawmakers note, pointing to some communities enacting restrictions on the use of commercial lawn equipment.

Instead, the lawmakers suggest a transition to “cleaner, all-electric lawn and garden equipment,” with the bill stating that “the technology and consumer markets are ready” for such a transition.

“In some instances, electric and battery-operated equipment are just as powerful as gas and more efficient,” they wrote.

As part of efforts to aid the transition away from gas or diesel-powered outdoor equipment, the bill would provide a temporary sales and use tax relief break for “zero emissions landscaping equipment.”

 President Joe Biden (R) greets California Gov. Gavin Newsom and others after disembarking Air Force One at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco on Nov. 14, 2023, as he arrives to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' week. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden (R) greets California Gov. Gavin Newsom and others after disembarking Air Force One at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco on Nov. 14, 2023, as he arrives to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ week. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Concerns Over Ban


The bill does contain exemptions to the fine or possible prison time as it applies to outdoor power equipment used by a federal, state, or local government agency or entity or its contractor for emergency management or response purposes such as wildfires, oil spills, or other natural or “human-caused emergency events.”

Democratic lawmakers in Minnesota introduced similar legislation earlier this year as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Under that measure, gas-powered lawn equipment in Minnesota would be illegal to use in less than two years.
California is set to ban all new gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and various outdoor equipment by 2024, while Washington, D.C. passed similar legislation banning gas-powered leaf blowers among residents, landscapers, and businesses in 2018, although it went into effect in 2022. That legislation comes with fines of up to $500 for each offense.

Despite the push from Democrats, serious concerns have been raised regarding such bans, particularly given the cost of electric gardening or landscaping equipment.

Commercial-grade electric-powered outdoor equipment can cost anywhere from 15 percent to 300 percent more upfront prior to factoring in the cost of batteries, chargers, and other potential electrical upgrades that may be required to keep them running throughout the day, according to the Orange County Register.

A commercial electric backpack leaf blower may cost $100 or more when compared to its gas counterpart, according to the publication.

Speaking to The Capital Press on Wednesday, Washington Contract Loggers Association Executive Director Jerry Bonagofsky said large commercial chainsaws are under generally 25 horsepower and cautioned that electric chainsaws could actually be dangerous.

“Electric chainsaws are not going to work for our industry,” Mr. Bonagofsky said. “What you see out there may work for homeowners, possibly some light landscaping, but for commercial operations, it’s not going to be efficient enough or productive enough.”

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