Commentary: Proposed ban on gas-powered lawn equipment is overreach
This was a submitted item for the Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
By State Rep. Paul Anderson, Starbuck, MN
There is a feeling among some that our state is trying to follow California's lead in many ways, especially in terms of environmental legislation and rule-making regulations. The latest example is a bill introduced this past week in the Minnesota House that bans the use of gas-powered lawn equipment in Minnesota in less than two years. It's H.F. 1715, which states that all new lawn and garden equipment sold or distributed in Minnesota after Jan. 1, 2025, be powered solely by electricity.
We aren't making this up. The proposed ban affects lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge clippers, chain saws, lawn edgers, string trimmers, and brush cutters. The ban on lawn mowers would include any model whose engine rates less than 25 horsepower. Many riding mowers are in that 20 to 25 horsepower range, and they are used to mow lawns that, in many cases, are quite large. Especially here in Greater Minnesota, keeping our lawns neatly mowed and trimmed can be a big job, one that many folks enjoy. And to legislate that they can't go to their favorite hardware store and buy a new gas-powered Lawn Boy or Simplicity is a stretch … an overreach.
Once again, we are setting ourselves up to be an island where stores in our neighboring border cities in the Dakotas — such as Fargo, Wahpeton and Milbank — will have those models for sale. And it's not so much the fact that electric lawn mowers are bad, it's that Big Government is telling us what we must do.
Full disclosure here. I have an electric chain saw and I really like it. Especially nice is the fact that, so long as the battery is charged, it will start every time! I've spent too much time pulling on the starter rope of a gas chain saw that hasn't been used in a while. But the electric chain saw, at least the one I have, has its place, and it's not for felling big, three-foot diameter ash trees. Its chain isn't as heavy, and it's meant for smaller jobs, such as trimming branches or cutting down small-diameter trees.
The point is that I bought the saw because I saw the need and wanted to, not because someone said I had to. If the electric models of any of this type of equipment are good and they make sense, people will buy them. But let the market take us there, and don't eliminate certain models that, for some, make the most sense.