An interesting article in today's New York Times discusses the efforts of a small engine manufacturer and their Congressional patron to keep from having to make changes to lawn mower engines that will decrease air pollution. This link allows you to read the article without registering–it's the same article reprinted in a Gainesville, Fla. newspaper.
According to the article:
the 2006 lawn mower engines contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than 2006 cars, according to the California Air Resources Board. In California, lawn mowers provided more than 2 percent of the smog-forming pollution from all engines.
The EPA has been after small engine manufacturers to add catalytic converters to lawn more engines for some time now. Catalytic converters decrease the amount of smog and carbon monoxide released from engines and are now required on all cars sold in the U.S.–a requirement that was years in the making because of resistance from Detroit automakers.
Being the ground-breaking state that they are, California said "no more." Tired of waiting for the EPA, California passed its own regulation that would tighten small engine emission requirements and would eliminate 22 tons of smog-forming chemicals from California skies DAILY. This would almost certainly require lawn more engines to be equipped with catalytic converters. But B&S (BS!) says that catalytic converters
will reduce their profits are unsafe:
Briggs and some other American equipment makers argue that the converters would add a dangerous amount of heat to already hot engines, creating a fire hazard. They point out that these machines are used or left standing amid dry brush or newspaper and other flammable garage debris.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) is the BS go-to boy in the Senate. Missouri is home to
lots of donations to his re-election campaign two BS factories. Sen. Bond says that forcing BS to add catalytic converters to their lawn mower engines will result in less money for BS executives tremendous job losses in his state.
Sorry, I'm getting carried away. Read the rest of the article to learn about the fight between Sen. Bond & CA Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. Then, ditch your lawn mower if it has a BS engine. I hear there are companies (Honda maybe?) that have more earth-friendly gas-powered lawn mowers. But for my money, if ya gotta mow your lawn, ditch the gas mower all together. Electric mowers seem to work fine on larger lawns; for small lawns you can buy a human-powered reel mower (see photo, courtesy of Clean Air Gardening).