EPA tightens lawn mower, motor boat emission rules

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 5, 2008 10:49am EDT

A worker cuts the new turf at the Stade de Suisse soccer stadium in Bern May 26, 2008. Exhaust-spewing lawn mowers and speed boats will get a green make-over under tough new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to reduce smog and save millions of gallons of gasoline. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

A worker cuts the new turf at the Stade de Suisse soccer stadium in Bern May 26, 2008. Exhaust-spewing lawn mowers and speed boats will get a green make-over under tough new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to reduce smog and save millions of gallons of gasoline.

Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exhaust-spewing lawn mowers and speed boats will get a green make-over under tough new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to reduce smog and save millions of gallons of gasoline.

Gas-powered engines in lawn and garden equipment will be required to cut smog-forming emissions by 35 percent, while engines in personal watercraft will have to cut smog-forming emissions by 70 percent and reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 20 percent.

"These standards help fight smog in our neighborhoods and waterways as we continue to improve the environmental landscape," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

It's the EPA's latest step to reduce emissions from nonroad sources. The agency previously set new standards for farm and construction equipment, recreational vehicles, locomotives and commercial marine craft.

The rules go into effect in 2010 for marine engines, including inboard and outboard engines, and in 2011 for lawn and garden equipment with horsepower of 25 or less, such as lawn mowers and weed wackers.

"When fully implemented, this rule will be the air pollution equivalent of removing one out of every five cars and trucks on the road," said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

With Americans spending more than 3 billion hours annually tending gardens and more than 500 million hours in recreational boating, the new rules will ease air pollution and help prevent 300 premature deaths and result in 1,700 fewer hospitalizations, according to the EPA.

The EPA estimates annual emission reductions of 600,000 tons of hydrocarbons, 130,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 1.5 million tons of carbon monoxide once the rules are fully implemented. Consumers will save 190 million gallons of gasoline each year.

The agency predicts that manufacturers will turn to catalytic converters to meet the new standards.

"With much of the East wheezing under Code Orange alerts, these standards couldn't come too soon," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the nonprofit group Clean Air Watch.

(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; editing by Jim Marshall)

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