OLYMPIA – Washington State legislators have introduced House Bill 1868 during the 68th Legislature’s 2024 regular session. Spearheaded by Democratic State Representatives Walen, Berry, Ramel, Duerr, Slatter, Reed, Kloba, Macri, Street, Gregerson, Hackney, Pollet, and Davis, the bill aims to significantly reduce emissions from outdoor power equipment, such as gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers, which are major contributors to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Filed on December 5, 2023, and read for the first time on January 8, 2024, HB 1868 has been referred to the Committee on Environment & Energy, marking the beginning of its journey through legislative scrutiny. This ambitious legislation seeks to amend several chapters of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and introduces new sections aimed at promoting the use of zero-emission outdoor power equipment.
The bill highlights disturbing facts about the environmental impact of gasoline-powered outdoor equipment. For instance, gas-powered mowers alone contribute to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, with over 17 million gallons of fuel spilled each year during refueling. Moreover, an hour of using a gas lawnmower can emit as much pollution as driving a passenger car for 300 miles, underscoring the urgent need for cleaner alternatives.
Recognizing the health risks and environmental damage posed by these pollutants, HB 1868 proposes a comprehensive strategy to phase out fossil fuel-powered outdoor power equipment. The legislation notes the technological readiness and market acceptance of electric and battery-operated alternatives, which have seen substantial growth in recent years. Many homeowners, businesses, and institutions have already transitioned to electric landscaping equipment, with manufacturers increasingly planning to discontinue gas-powered products.
To facilitate this transition, HB 1868 outlines several key measures, including the establishment of temporary sales and use tax relief for zero emissions landscaping equipment. This financial incentive is designed to accelerate the adoption of cleaner technology by making electric and battery-operated equipment more affordable.
Additionally, the bill mandates the Department of Ecology to adopt rules prohibiting engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new outdoor power equipment produced from January 1, 2026, or as soon as feasible. Exceptions will be made for emergency management purposes and specific use cases where no suitable zero-emission technology exists.
HB 1868 also establishes a grant program for local governments to replace fossil fuel-powered equipment with zero-emission alternatives, prioritizing projects that benefit vulnerable populations and reduce hazardous occupational exposures. The legislature intends to dedicate $5 million annually to this program from 2025 through 2029.
In a broader context, the bill amends the climate commitment account to include funding for the outdoor power equipment grant program and offset revenue losses from the proposed tax preferences.