Rush Introduces Legislation to Protect Consumers from the Dangers of Portable Generators

Dec 11, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced the introduction of H.R. 8928, the Portable Generator Safety Standard to Avoid Needless Deaths and Reduce Disabilities Act, or, the Portable Generator Safety STANDARD Act. This legislation would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to create mandatory consumer product safety standards for portable generators in order to protect consumers from death or injury related to the use of these products. There are currently no mandatory safety standards for the performance of portable generators, which are tied to the deaths of nearly 1,000 Americans from carbon monoxide poisoning between 2005 and 2019, as well as several thousand non-fatal injuries each year.

“When faced with unpredictable power outages, countless Americans turn to portable generators in order to meet their electricity needs. This becomes even more important as we enter the bitter cold months associated with Chicago winters and elsewhere. However, many families seldom imagine that the use of these products could result in their own untimely deaths or that of a loved one,” said Rep. Rush. “Between 2005 and 2019, portable generators have killed nearly 1,000 of our fellow Americans through the emission of noxious carbon monoxide. In fact, a number of deaths associated with Hurricane Laura, which rocked the Gulf Coast of the United States this past summer, were tied to the use of these generators and the subsequent carbon monoxide poisoning.”

“This colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is a silent killer, and due to the abhorrent absence of mandatory safety standards associated with portable gasoline generators, many Americans are unwittingly poisoning themselves and their families,” Rep. Rush continued. “That’s why I am proud to introduce the Portable Generator Safety STANDARD Act, which has been endorsed by Consumer Reports and the Consumer Federation of America, in order to create common sense safety standards for these products and ultimately protect American consumers from the lesser known dangers associated with them. I am confident that the bill’s requirements and the simple implementation of clear and conspicuous labeling will make these products safer and ultimately save lives.”

“People typically use portable generators as trusted emergency equipment, and the last thing they should have to worry about during a power outage is someone getting hurt or killed by carbon monoxide poisoning,” said William Wallace, manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports. “These deaths and injuries are preventable—especially given recent innovation—and the best way to help people stay safe is to make sure that every portable generator comes equipped with essential safety features. That’s exactly what this bill does, and it’s why CR strongly supports it.”

“Consumer Federation of America applauds the introduction of the Portable Generator Safety STANDARD Act,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “For far too long, too many portable generators posed serious threats to consumers. This bill takes significant steps to reduce these preventable deaths and injuries,” Weintraub concluded.

In particular, the Portable Generator Safety STANDARD Act requires that:

  • portable generators have certain maximum carbon monoxide emission rates based on the type and class of the generator;
  • portable generators have appropriate shutoff capability in elevated carbon monoxide environments, and
  • a portable generator shall include clear and conspicuous labeling marking the direction of exhaust.

Earlier this year, Rep. Rush introduced H.R. 5565, the Safety Hazard and Recall Efficiency (SHARE) Information Act, which would amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to allow the CPSC to share critical information regarding hazardous products to consumers in a timely manner.  The legislation would also increase the civil penalties on those who violate information sharing requirements or continue to sell dangerous products.

Both the SHARE Information Act and the Portable Generator Safety STANDARD Act are supported by Consumer Reports and the Consumer Federation of America.