Time for Governor Hochul to Sign the Lawn Mower Rebate Bill

This bill will create a rebate program for residents and companies changing from gasoline-driven mowers and leaf blowers to electric-battery driven ones.

Gas-powered lawn equipment like mowers, leaf blowers, and hedge trimmers contribute to air pollution and climate change by releasing volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide. EPA data has found that gas-powered lawn mowers make up 5% of total air pollution in the U.S., and it's even higher in urban areas. Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, which totals to about 800 million gallons of gas used per year. What’s more is that the emissions from a single four-stroke lawnmower operating for one hour are equivalent to an average vehicle traveling 500 miles. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has even disclosed that the lawn care equipment emits polluting hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, fine particulate matter, and carbon monoxide.

A bill (S7453/A8327) sitting on Governor Hochul’s desk would create a rebate program for commercial and individual landscapers to exchange their gas-powered mowers for climate-friendly battery-operated equipment. The rebate is capped at $15,000 for commercial landscapers and $1,000 for individuals. The bill was introduced by Sen. Krueger and Assemblyman Englebright and has passed both houses in the New York State legislature. It will create an Electric Landscaping Equipment Rebate program to be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Not only is gas-powered lawn equipment polluting, but it creates intense noise pollution that battery-operated equipment does not. According to a 2018 report in the Journal of Environmental and Toxicological Studies, sound levels at distances of 400 feet were up to 22 decibels louder from a gas driven leaf blower compared to one driven by an electric battery—each increase of 10 decibels represents a 10-fold increase in clamorous sound. Hearing this noisy equipment for hours a day exposes workers and large numbers of people in the community to harmful levels of noise and threatens public health, particularly for children, seniors, and other vulnerable populations.

About 170 communities in the U.S. have already enacted restrictions on gas-powered leaf blowers, including several dozen cities and villages in New York State that have enforced bans on this equipment during certain times of the year. S7453/A8327 will foster even broader support for New Yorkers—the rebate plan will help landscapers and homeowners transition away from gas-powered lawn care equipment to far less polluting, far less noisy electrical products. Numerous communities in California already operate this type of rebate program and now New York should join ranks. Hochul must sign the bill into law as part of her administration’s climate and environmental protection policies.

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