Quiet Clean PDX is working with city, county and state policy makers in Oregon to enact legislation that will protect landscape workers, residents and the environment from the harms caused by gas-powered leaf blowers.
An equitable transition away from gas-powered equipment will require a collaborative effort with all voices at the table. Since 2018 we have been meeting not only with elected officials but also with concerned residents, landscape contractors, public health experts, air quality officials, noise experts, ecological landscapers, and social and environmental justice organizations. Our accomplishments to date include the following:
Rep. Courtney Neron and Sen. Michael Dembrow introduced companion bills in the House and Senate that would allow Oregon to adopt California’s zero-emission standard for small non-road engines, which includes most lawn & garden equipment. These bills also direct DEQ to establish a program to incentivize the purchase by businesses of zero-emission small nonroad equipment, with priority given to small businesses.
Oregon LC 2968 (House) and 1960 (Senate)
Rep. Courtney Neron and Sen. Michael Dembrow plan to introduce two companion bills in the House and Senate that would phase out gas-powered leaf blowers from areas within Urban Growth Boundaries with populations greater than 300,000.
This bill, advanced by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association, would allow an income or corporate excise tax credit of 50% for purchase of commercial-grade battery-powered leaf blowers and related equipment. It would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2024, and before January 1, 2030. To claim the credit, a taxpayer would have to be (a) licensed as a landscape construction professional or as a landscape contracting business; or (b) licensed as a commercial contractor.
Rep. Courtney Neron and Sen. Michael Dembrow prepared two House bills with companion Senate bills for the 2023 session. Two were introduced “pre-session.” QCPDX played an active role in shaping these bills and ensuring coordination between county and state staff.
Leaf Blowers Policy Working Group (City of Portland and Multnomah County)
County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and City Commissioner Carmen Rubio convened a joint city-county work group of staff and key stakeholders in spring 2022. The group met three times during the year and produced a comprehensive memo with a set of recommendations for phasing out gas-powered leaf blowers county-wide, which was sent to County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and City Commissioner Carmen Rubio on December 9, 2022 for their response.
On Dec. 16, 2021, after hearing testimonies from QCPDX and its supporters, County Commissioners approved a resolution expressing support for convening a work group with the City of Portland to consider an equitable, community-wide phase-out strategy for gas powered leaf blowers, and for accelerating the county’s own transition away from the use of these tools at county facilities.
We worked with Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (chief sponsor) to introduce a bill in the 2021 legislative session prohibiting the sale or use of gas-powered leaf blowers inside any Oregon Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) with a population of 300,000 or more. (This would initially apply only to Portland, where over 50% of gas leaf blower use in Oregon takes place.) HB 3023 received an informational hearing in the House Committee on Energy and Environment but unfortunately died in committee due to the sheer volume of urgent and backlogged legislation. See FAQs about the bill.
As a result of our advocacy, in December 2019 the City Council passed a resolution directing City bureaus to transition from gas-powered to electric or battery-operated leaf blowers. It also called for the formation of a work group to consider a city-wide transition to electric and battery-operated leaf blowers and manual tools. The bill was sponsored by the late Commissioner Nick Fish.
We worked with Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, and Senators Michael Dembrow and Shemia Fagan to introduce a bill in the 2019 legislative session prohibiting the use or sale of gas-powered leaf blowers in Oregon. HB 3350 received an informational meeting in the House Committee on Energy and Environment but then died in committee.