Banning gardening supplies is not a sound energy or environmental policy solution. But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers in the Colorado legislature from putting forth Senate Bill 138, a proposal that would only make everyday life more difficult while doing little, if anything, to improve the environment.
So, what is the real purpose of SB 138’s ban on lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and chainsaws? To hand the government more control over consumer purchases. It acts as an excuse for cronyism, corporate welfare, and political talking points – but really just hurts the least fortunate in society.
In theory, SB 138 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, setting unrealistic goals of a 40 percent reduction of emissions by 2028 and a 90 percent reduction by 2050. In reality, promises to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through top-down regulations are rarely successful.
The ban on gasoline-powered engines under 50 horsepower is a guise, explained away as a necessary measure to achieve the bill’s unrealistic goals. However, banning an array of lawn care equipment likely isn’t even about meeting these emissions goals.
A ban on gasoline-powered engines under 50 horsepower is a power grab for the government for which they won’t be held accountable. On the front end, they would replace consumer preferences with politically preferred technology and fuels. Later on, they would never take responsibility for failing to meet their unrealistic emission reduction goals.
While this proposed ban is a win-win for the government, it’s consumers who pay the price. Many Coloradans don’t have the money to spend on all new lawn and garden equipment. Buying a new electric chainsaw, lawnmower, leaf blower, and hedge trimmer would cost at least a grand or two.
Not to mention, the cost of brand-new electric equipment is sure to keep going up thanks to inflation. To add insult to injury, the law incorporates an unfair tax handout for those who are able to afford an all new set of equipment.
Replacing consumer preferences with politically preferred technology and fuels has tangible consequences. If SB 138 is enacted and your gasoline-powered piece of equipment dies, you won’t be able to buy another one. This bill seriously misrepresents Colorado’s vast blue collar population — for which this bill could create serious problems. Not all lawns can be efficiently mowed with an electric lawn mower and not all trees can be cut down effectively with an electric chainsaw.
It may seem like setting lofty and unattainable goals is harmless, as long as some progress is made in reducing emissions. That simply isn’t the case. Unrealistic goals are often accompanied by unreasonable laws enacted to achieve those goals — such as a ban on lawn mowers. SB 138 is the type of bill you’d expect to hear about in New York, not out West in Colorado.
Instead of punishing Coloradans and taking away consumer choice, legislators should focus on empowering communities to be better stewards of the environment and removing barriers to innovation. Mandates and regulations stifle innovation and undermine the kind of ingenuity that leads to new and cleaner technology development.
Passing SB 138 would be nothing more than a government power grab, with little-to-no benefit to the environment and a complete disregard for consumer choice. If the members of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee respect Coloradans’ right to run their own lives and are committed to implementing realistic solutions in protecting the environment, they should vote against SB 138.
Jesse Mallory is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Colorado.
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