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On October 9, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that will effectively ban the sale of gas-powered small off-road engines (SORE) — spark-ignited engines rated at or below 25 hp — many of which are used in lawn and garden equipment such as mowers, as well as logging equipment, commercial utility equipment and specialty vehicles.

The bill, AB1346, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ban the sale of new small off-road engines used in equipment which includes generators, lawn equipment, and other small off-road engine equipment. Regulations are to be in place by Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon as regulators determine what is “feasible,” whichever date is later.

The new bill is intended to be part of California’s strategy to reduce pollution. Supporters of the bill argue that small off-road engines create as much pollution in California as passenger vehicles. Per the text of the new bill, California currently exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state standards for ozone in many parts of the state. The bill states that in 2020, daily oxides of nitrogen (NOx) levels emitted by SORE averaged 16.8 tons per day and 125 tons per day for reactive organic gases (ROG), both of which contribute to the formation of ozone.

There are more than 16.7 million of these small engines in California, about 3 million more than the number of passenger cars on the road, the Associated Press reported. State officials have suggested that the operation of a gas-powered leaf blower for 1 hour emits the equivalent pollution of driving a car from Los Angeles to Denver or about 1,100 mi. (1,770.3 km).

Because regulations for SORE have not been as stringent as those for other engine types—such as heavier duty engines used in trucks or large construction equipment—the state felt it was time to evaluate smaller engines, as well. In addition, there are many zero-emission options, such as battery powered equipment, now available in the market. And the options continue to expand as more manufacturers continue development for gas- and diesel-powered alternatives.

In September 2020, an executive order from the Governor’s office directed the state board “to implement strategies to achieve 100% zero emissions from off-road equipment in California by 2035, where feasible and cost-effective,” as stated in the text of bill AB1346. To do, SORE must also be included.


If you are a manufacturer with questions related to S.O.R.E, contact us today to speak with our team of certification experts.