Air quality agency will vote to cut pollution from lawn equipment

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DENVER – The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) is expected to vote on Friday to reduce air pollution by restricting the use of the highest emitting gas-powered lawn and garden equipment on public property. Putting into place the first statewide policy of its kind in the nation, the Commission is expected to adopt a new rule prohibiting the use of certain gas-powered lawn care equipment on public property during the summer ozone season starting next year.

A recent report by CoPIRG Foundation found that gas-powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden tools generate an astonishing amount of pollution and noise, including an estimated 671 tons of harmful “fine particulate” air pollution in Colorado in 2020 –  an amount equivalent to the pollution produced by more than 7 million cars in a year. 

When it comes to ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), these machines contributed an estimated 9,811 tons of VOCs and 1,969 tons of NOx to Colorado’s air in a single year. Emissions cuts from the lawn care sector are an important way to reduce ozone pollution at a time when the Denver Metro/North Front Range area has been in violation of Clean Air Act standards for ozone for over a decade.

In response, CoPIRG Foundation Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz released the following statement:

“Given the significant pollution generated by gas-powered lawn equipment and the severe air pollution problem in our region, I’m glad the state is taking action to accelerate the switch to cleaner, quieter electric lawn equipment. This week’s vote is the first step toward eliminating this unnecessary source of harmful air pollution.

It doesn’t make sense to allow tons of pollution that damages our health just from cutting grass and blowing leaves around when cleaner, quieter electric options are readily available.

Just imagine: starting next summer, Coloradans will be able to head to their local park and not have to worry about fumes or obnoxious noise from gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers.”

The pollution generated by gas lawn equipment imposes a significant health cost and has been linked to health problems including asthma attacks, reproductive ailments, mental health challenges, cancer and even premature deaths. 

The Regulation 29 proposal that the AQCC is expected to adopt this week would:

  • Prohibit the use of gas-powered push lawn mowers and handheld landscaping tools under 25 horsepower on state property during the summertime ozone season (June 1-August 31) starting in 2025;
  • Prohibit the use of gas-powered push lawn mowers and handheld landscaping tools under 10 horsepower on other public property within the Denver Metro/North Front Range ozone nonattainment area (the area roughly from Douglas County up through Larimer and Weld Counties) during the summertime ozone season starting in 2025; and 
  • Direct the Air Pollution Control Division to track the market share of electric lawn and garden equipment and request a rulemaking hearing to be completed by the end of 2025 to consider gas-powered lawn equipment use restrictions for commercial operators, and possibly a sales prohibition on new gas-powered equipment. 

For more information on this issue, visit our recent report. For more information on how to take advantage of a new, statewide 30% discount on electric lawn and garden equipment and other financial incentives, visit our tip guide.