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Lawn Mowing and the Environment

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

Even lawn mowers aren't immune to partisan strife. For years, Democratic senators have unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation forcing lawnmower manufacturers to install catalytic converters on their engines.

Behind the lawn mower battle is the EPA's contention that low-horsepower machines account for at least 10 percent of the nation's smog pollution, which has been linked to respiratory and heart disease. A single lawnmower emits as much pollution in an hour as 50 cars driving 20 miles.
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Disagreements about Lawn Mowers

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) sees it another way. A powerful advocate for engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton Corp., a major employer in Missouri, Bond has worked hard to block state and federal officials from requiring less polluting outdoor power equipment. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Bond said he is worried the catalytic converters required by the pending rule would pose a potential fire threat.

Lawn Mowing Legislation

"EPA has a responsibility to determine if this is a safe means, a practical means of achieving emissions reductions, and that has not been done," he said, adding that EPA administrator Steve Johnson agreed in a phone conversation yesterday to conduct the peer-reviewed study.

The congressional fight over lawnmowers began two years ago when Bond tried to bar California from setting its own standards for small gasoline-powered engines. Both Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) objected vehemently, and Bond agreed to leave California alone, but the battle lines were drawn.

Engines and Lawn Mowing

Tipped off by Bond's maneuverings, environmental advocates focused their efforts on passing a federal anti-pollution law while Bond is doing his best to stop other states from passing their own catalytic converter laws.

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About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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