Healthy Air

First 2023 ozone reduction bill introduced – will tackle dirty, gas-powered mowers and blowers

The bill, sponsored by Senator Hansen and Representatives McCormick and Sirota, would cut the cost for consumers of purchasing electric-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and snow blowers.

Clean air

With 140 days until the official June 1 start of Colorado’s next ozone season, the first bill of the 2023 state legislative session to address the state’s ozone problem has landed. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Hansen and Representatives McCormick and Sirota, includes a provision to reduce the up-front cost for consumers of cleaner electric-powered lawn and garden equipment by 30%.

Transitioning away from dirty gas-powered equipment is important because, pound for pound, gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers produce even more ozone-forming emissions than the cars and trucks we drive.

According to CoPIRG Foundation’s recent report, Small Machines, Big Pollution, a 2011 study showed a consumer-grade leaf blower emitted nearly 300 times the amount of non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) pollutants as a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor pickup truck. The report also cites a 2021 fact sheet showing that operating a commercial lawn mower for one hour can result in as much ozone-forming emissions as driving about 300 miles – approximately the distance from Trinidad to Cheyenne.

As written, Senate Bill 16 would provide a tax credit to retailers who provide an up-front discount to consumers of up to 30% when selling electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and snow blowers. Having retailers take on the responsibility of pursuing the tax credit and taking the equivalent discount off the up-front cost of the electric equipment should increase the number of consumers taking advantage of the program. 

Coloradans have been exposed to dangerously high levels of ozone air pollution for over a decade as the northern Front Range has failed to meet EPA air quality standards. If the region can fully transition away from gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, we could achieve nearly one fifth of the reduction needed to meet EPA health-based air quality standards.

The bill will head to the Senate’s Transportation & Energy committee for its first hearing.

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