Colorado Gov. Issues Order to Phase Out Gas Equipment

Colorado Governor Jared Polis issue an executive order directing the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA) to establish a Sustainability Office seeking “opportunities to reduce energy and water consumption in state buildings, increase the use of renewable energy by state facilities, purchase and utilize electric cars and trucks in state operations, and improve the sustainability of state procurement.”

At the top of his listed initiative, the governor directs the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and DPA “to develop a policy to phase out gas-powered push and hand-held lawn and garden equipment to continue towards the state’s commitment to efficient and sustainable government operations.” His executive order also contains initiatives aimed at “water-wise landscaping.” Polis said this as an opportunity to improve sustainability, reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses, and reduce the operating costs of State government “for the benefit of all Coloradoans.”

Colorado state capitol Wally Gobetz-Flickr
Colorado state capitol photo by Wally Gobetz

This order states, “gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment create high levels of localized emissions that include hazardous air pollutants, criteria pollutants, and carbon dioxide emissions. These ‘nonroad’ emissions significantly contribute to air pollution, raising concerns about the impacts on public health. Gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment is also exceedingly loud contributing to noise pollution as well as air pollution. The state can and now will set an example in reducing emissions by making changes in the equipment we use to care for the lands of Colorado.”

Sustainability Office

In the EO, Polis calls on the proposed Sustainability Office to create a “Greening Government Strategic Plan,” and says it should include year-by-year approach to energy performance contracting, adoption of electric vehicles, advancing water efficiency measures for state facilities, and improving operations.

The order continues with the governor directing “CDPHE and DPA, in consultation with other relevant State agencies, to establish a policy to phase out use of gas-powered push and hand-held lawn and garden equipment with internal combustion engines that are less than 25 horsepower by state agencies.” The state will prioritize contractors that use electric lawn and garden equipment. This policy makes exceptions for equipment used to abate or prevent damage during a declared disaster emergency, equipment used by first responders to provide emergency services, or for fire hazard reduction activities in or near wildland areas or wildland urban interface.

Some Public Support

Kirsten Schatz, a Clean Air Advocate for Colorado’s Public Interest Research Group, released a statement in support of the Governor’s order. “With this executive order, Colorado can lead the way in quickly shifting away from highly polluting, excessively loud gas-powered lawn and garden equipment and identifying other sustainability measures that can reduce pollution and waste and save money. This is great news for Coloradans’ health and quality of life.”

Earlier in the summer, Colorado’s Regional Air Quality Council, which recommends policies for improving air quality along the Front Range, formally recommended a regulation would require local governments to stop using small, gas-powered equipment during the summer by 2025, and it would ban commercial operators from using the equipment during the summer months by 2026.

The policy would apply only in nine counties that make up the “Front Range.” That is an area mostly west of Denver leading into the mountains that struggles with ozone pollution. The sales ban would not be statewide. Gas tractors and larger gas-powered lawn mowers still would be allowed, and exceptions for using gas-powered equipment for forest and grasslands management and after natural disasters.

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