Gas-Free Lawn Care Starts in California, Tesla’s Autopilot Collision Data Similar to Previous Year

Sometime around 2012, I interviewed a small business startup owner at AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, Calif. He was promoting his electric leaf blower and spoke eloquently about why we need to switch over to electric lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and leaf blowers. The noise is one reason, but the air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions was an even more serious reason, he said.

That topic has come up several times over the past year-and-a-half at a morning tai chi class I go to in Manhattan Beach. We had to move away from a park in Hermosa Beach because a lawn-care team would be there to mow lawns, run edgers, weed whackers and leaf blowers every time we showed up for class. The putrid smell and loud, obnoxious noise became too much — so we opted to move to another park.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the state banned gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers and only allowed electric?” I would put out to the group. “Remind me to contact my assembly member and suggest that a bill be introduced.”

I just found out there’s no need to take that action. On January 1, 2024, California became the first state to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered lawn mowers and other lawn-care tools. That covers small off-road engines (SOREs), spark-ignition engines powered by gasoline and rated or at below 25 hp (19kW).

California’s green lawn care law covers all lawn care and gardening equipment manufactured after Dec. 31, 2023, that use SOREs. The list includes: lawn mowers, riding mowers, string trimmers, edgers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and log splitters. That one started January 1, and it sets zero-emission standards for outdoor equipment except generators and large pressure washers. Phase two will take effect in 2028 and includes generators and large washers.

While most Californians want the loud noise to go away, the main focus in the state has been reducing emissions from lawn-care equipment that is more polluting than all the cars in the state combined. That policy was adopted as debate goes on all over the country over getting rid of gas-powered equipment including gas stoves. This issue has faced opposition from some Republican elected officials, gas companies, and others who say the restrictions reduce consumer choice.

In California, it came from Assembly Bill 1346 in 2021, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park). It required California Air Resources Board, by July 1, 2022, to be consistent with federal law, and to adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines, as defined by CARB. Such regulations had to apply to engines produced on or after January 1, 2024, or as soon as CARB determined if its feasible, whichever was later. CARB ruled it would start at the first of this year.

It ties into California’s ambitious plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2045 — and that the negative impact of gas-powered lawn care equipment has to be taken seriously. CARB reported that one hour use of a gas-powered lawn mower releases as much pollution as a Toyota Camry does over 300 miles. And as you can see on the map graphic at the beginning of this article, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that lawn tools emitted more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide in this country during 2020. California, Texas, and Florida, had the highest levels of CO2 emissions from lawn and garden equipment in the U.S. during that time — another good reason for the state of California to enact this law.

And in other news……….

Autopilot safety: Tesla just reported that the number of collisions for drivers using its Autopilot semi-autonomous features was similar to 2022. The quarterly report said that for the results were 21% worse in Q1 versus that quarter in 2022, 21% better in Q2, 6% worse in Q3 and 11% better in the fourth quarter. It’s not entirely clear if the the safety factor has been been improved or is staying the same. Tesla vehicles not using Autopilot are reporting more accidents than those vehicles equipped with it, the company said. Last month, Tesla recalled more than two million vehicles to fix a function that makes sure drivers are paying attention when they use Autopilot. That followed a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot was in use, with some of them being fatal. NHTSA found that Tesla’s method of ensuring that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and needs improvement.

EV infrastructure jobs: You can now download a report on the International Council on Clean Transportation website called, Charging Up America: The Growth of United States Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Jobs. It explores how much it will need to change to expand light-duty vehicle (LDV) and medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (MHDV) charging infrastructure to meet annual charging needs through 2032. That’s being driven by growth in the electric vehicle fleet coming through newly proposed federal standards. That will mean the hiring, training, and development of skilled workers to carry out the necessary infrastructure expansion.

Mississippi battery cell production: Three partners have chosen Marshall County, Miss., as the future site of an advanced battery cell manufacturing site for their planned joint venture. Accelera by Cummins, the zero-emissions business segment of Cummins Inc.; Daimler Trucks & Buses US Holding LLC; and PACCAR, another major truck manufacturer, started all of it in September 2023 by forging the joint venture. They will be localizing battery cell production to create about 2,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs, with the option to expand it even more as demand grows. The 21-gigawatt hour (GWh) factory is expected to begin producing battery cells in 2027. I just completed a master’s degree program at Missouri School of Journalism in strategic communication. One of my homework assignments in December for my final course was to create a website promoting myself and my work. Part of that assignment was boiling it all down: What do I do? I’d also completed my research project last month, GenZ Journalism Majors on Discerning Valid, Legitimate News. Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with, and occasionally obsessed with, researching topics that jump out at me. One of the sections of my new website, Hot to Not Lie With Statistics, gives homage to one of my favorite books, How to Lie with Statistics. That has to do with my love for research and investigation and putting it into words and numbers. I’ve had growing concerns about how important it is for all of us to tap into fundamental research methods — making it our own. We Americans live in a country known for iconic figures such as P.T. Barnum, William ¨Boss¨ Tweed, Henry Ford, Madison Avenue, Hollywood, Jim Jones, Ted Bundy, Steve Jobs, Facebook, and Elon Musk. We have some of the best marketing, entertainment, political campaigns, technology innovations, and charismatic, adventurous leaders with famous and occasionally tragic lives. But how do we determine accuracy, validity, and meaning for our own lives? Bringing it home…… Are you concerned about the cleanliness of clean energy? Then start with your research question, such as: What’s the state of clean energy in America? My career has been a mix of market research and business journalism, and its always been there in my jobs — such as tracking market indicators in industry segments or digging into what consumers and business decision makers think about electric vehicles and charging, and many other topics and interests. Visiting my website,, will give you a look at how this is all coming together for me.

Transport and energy firms on Corporate Knights Global 100 list, Exxon Mobil sues activist investors

Corporate Knights this month released its 20th annual Global 100 list. This Toronto-based media and research company focuses on advancing a sustainable, low-carbon economy. As a group, the 2024 Global 100 most sustainable corporations invested 55% of their capital expenditures, research and development, and acquisitions in sustainable practices like clean energy, compared to an average of 17% by large companies (more than $1 billion in revenue) overall. Here’s a look at nine companies in transportation and energy and how their sustainability initiatives are being carried out. 

#4 Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp.

Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) is the high-speed railway of Taiwan consisting of one line that runs approximately 350 km (217 miles) along the west coast, from the capital Taipei to the southern city of Kaohsiung. That happened through a $513.3 billion investment in 1998 by this private company. Sustainability comes through three points: low carbon, low air pollution, high energy features on the trains; strengthening environmental management around the operation route; and adding renewable energy devices at maintenance depots and major stations.

#7 Schneider Electric SE

This French multinational company has a decarbonization program that provides training, consulting, and tools and solutions. That might come through energy and sustainability consulting to optimizing lifecycles of assets, and technology products and services to meet these goals. Schneider Electric  helps the top 1,000 suppliers deliver on their climate-positive goal to reduce CO2 emissions by half by 2025. The company had been visible in electric vehicle charging a few years ago.

#13 Clean Harbors Inc.

Clean Harbors, Inc. is an American provider of environmental and industrial services, including hazardous waste disposal for clients that include companies, small waste generators, and federal, state, provincial and local governments — including serving major ports. Safety-Kleen, a Clean Harbor company, is where much of that happens. That includes parts washer technologies; parts-cleaning services with a comprehensive selection of equipment, technology, solvents and chemistries; a nationwide fleet of trucks, tankers, rail-cars and barges that collects used oil from thousands of locations across the U.S, Canada and Puerto Rico; the company’s fleet of over 220 vacuum trucks will pump out liquid, sludge and solids at client facilities, while ensuring proper disposal of their waste through their industry leading service; and recycling and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

#25 XPeng Inc.

Chinese electric vehicle maker XPeng sells most all of its electric sedans and SUVs in China. As of November, XPeng deliveries exceeded 120,000 for the year, which is 11% more than a year ago. The company says that it is China’s first automaker to implement high-level ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) for urban areas in series-produced cars. Its Zhaoqing Plant was recognized as a “Green Plant” by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China. The automaker established a VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) evaluation standard system and process specifications covering the entire vehicle, including parts and materials.

#34 First Solar Inc.

As of 2023, First Solar ranked fourth in a list of largest companies within the U.S. solar industry based on revenue, according to Investopedia. The company is an American manufacturer of solar panels, and a provider of utility-scale PV power plants and supporting services that include finance, construction, maintenance and end-of-life panel recycling. CEO Mark Widmar said in the company Sustainability Report 2023 that the company has set for itself a roadmap to reduce its absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2028 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, relative to 2020. One key element is building its commitment to a circular economy through its next-generation photovoltaic (PV) modules and manufacturing processes. That comes through raw material sourcing to high-value recycling with closed loop semiconductor recovery.

#43 Li Auto Inc.

Li Auto Inc. is a Chinese electric vehicle maker headquartered in Beijing, with manufacturing facilities in Changzhou. Founded by Li Xiang in 2015, the company mainly builds electric vehicles that use range extenders for a power supply. Li Xiang is a Chinese billionaire with other ventures including New York-listed Autohome, an auto news and services portal. Li auto’s current model lineup includes Li MEGA, a high-tech flagship family MPV, Li L9, a six-seat flagship family SUV, Li L8, a six-seat premium family SUV, and Li L7, a five-seat flagship family SUV. The company is proud to have maintained excellent AA MSCI ESG, ratings in recent years, reaching the leader level. This ratings system measures a company’s management of financially relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.

#46 Tesla Inc.

Along with being No. 1 or No. 2 in EV sales worldwide (depending on how you measure it), Tesla is being recognized here for corporate sustainability practices. As part of its Master Plan Part 3, the automaker identified five key areas:  1. Repower the Existing Grid with Renewables, where four US sub-regions (Texas, Pacific, Midwest, Eastern) are modeled to account for sustainable generation and storage. 2. Switch to Electric Vehicles, which are four times more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles due to higher powertrain efficiency. 3. Switch to Heat Pumps — using the appropriate selection of refrigerants and best heat pump technology. 4. Electrify High Temperature Heat Delivery and Hydrogen Production to cost effectively accelerate industrial electrification; and 5. Sustainably Fuel Planes & Boats — where ocean shipping  can be electrified by optimizing design speed and routes to enable smaller batteries with more frequent charge stops on long routes. 

#55 Samsung SDI Co. Ltd.

Samsung SDI Co., Ltd. is the battery and electronic materials manufacturer division of the South Korean giant. Samsung SDI focuses its business with Energy Solutions and Electronic Materials segment; which includes EV battery packs, which come with prismatic battery cells for automotive applications. Last year, the company said that its top priority was to disseminate ESG management across its supply chains. The company disclosed its Scope 3 emissions, which is the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization — suppliers. 

#56 Rivian Automotive Inc.

The startup electric pickup and SUV maker is moving toward transforming its manufacturing plant to 100% renewable energy on an annual basis and over 90% hourly carbon-free electricity by 2030. Its EVs will be charged by 100% renewable energy on Rivian’s charging network. The EV maker will continue to partner with suppliers to meet high sustainability standards. The company wants to make sure that 100% of strategic suppliers meet or exceed its social and environmental standards by 2030. Another goal is working to ensure all Rivian employees experience genuine community, shared values and a sense of belonging, regardless of role, location or personal identity.

And in other news………
Exxon Mobil Corp. continues to fall out of favor with sustainability advocates. The oil giant on Sunday filed a complaint in a Texas court against activist investors seeking to get Exxon to strive to reduce climate emissions. Arjuna Capital, a U.S. activist investment firm, and shareholder activist group Follow This, is leading the investor coalition that’s asking Exxon and other oil majors to adopt tighter climate targets. They want to Exxon to set Scope 3 targets — something that the other four Western oil majors have committed to.

RNG growth: Renewable natural gas (RNG) leaders expect to see more growth in 2024 — after seeing more than 60 projects go online last year. That brought the total number to about 350, according to data collected by the American Biogas Council (ABC), which excludes wastewater treatment plants. ABC also estimates that biogas producers and developers invested about $1.8 billion in projects last year. Growth should be in the 10% to 40% range, and probably on the high end, ABC said.

EV affordability: Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) just launched its Electric Vehicle Affordability Resource Page. It addresses one of the top requests the association gets: to break down how much electric vehicles cost compared to gas vehicles, and what fuel savings actually look like. Visitors get to find out that driving an EV is more affordable than they may think.

NREL and Amazon: The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Amazon, which says that its become the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy worldwide since 2020, are working to modernize greenhouse gas emissions quantification using higher-resolution data and longer-term modeling. The government agency and the corporation are collaborating on a guidance document and new data sets, published by NREL, that will allow corporations to make better-informed decisions around their respective GHG emissions.

What’s Next in Performance EVs, EPA Revises Tesla Range Specs

Car and Driver recently published a comprehensive look at what’s coming up in the next four years for cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, with most all of these innovative vehicles being all-electric.

The new vehicle options continue to improve as zero emission vehicle standards increase in California and partner states, and to meet federal guidelines for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a good look at some of the long-awaited models, with some of them in high price ranges.

And in other news…………

EPA revises Tesla range: As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revises electric vehicle range following a Department of Justice investigation last year, Tesla will have to revise its specifications. Four trim levels across these three Tesla models received lower range estimates following the new EPA testing guidelines. Edmunds says the new figures are closer to what they discovered in its own real-world testing.

The Model Y Long Range now has a 310-mile range estimate, down from 330 miles. The Model Y Performance’s range estimate dropped from 303 miles to 285 miles, while the Model X Plaid’s range has been reduced from 333 miles to 326 miles. The range estimate for the Model S Plaid has been lowered from 396 miles to 359 miles when equipped with the smaller 19-inch wheels. The Model S Plaid’s range estimate on the larger wheels remains unchanged.

IEA reports on coal and petrochemicals: International Energy Agency reported that coal consumption in 2023 appeared to drop sharply in most advanced economies, declining by around 20% in both the European Union and the U.S. Meanwhile, demand in emerging and developing economies remained strong – increasing by 8% in India and by 5% in China due to rising demand for electricity and weak hydropower output.

The production of petrochemicals – which are used to make clothing, tires, detergents, fertilizers and other everyday products – is expanding rapidly, according to IEA’s new commentary. The sector’s growth is most notable in China, where the speed and scale at which new plants have been rapid. The oil industry has reaped big rewards from this development. According to the commentary, were it not for the petrochemical sector’s strong growth, the world’s oil consumption would have remained comfortably below pre-pandemic levels.