In a move that will be seen as a small bright spot on an otherwise tarnished environmental record, the Bush Administration's Environmental Protection Agency has established new pollution rules for small engines that run lawn mowers, weed whackers and other neighborhood landscaping equipment, and that run boats, jet skis and other watercraft. (The Bush EPA has previously won praise for its efforts to curtail emissions from other non-road engines, like diesel construction equipment.)
The changes won't take effect until 2010 and 2011, and will only show results slowly over the course of years, as older models are replaced with new, cleaner-burning versions.
But the new rules will have the effect of significantly reducing pollution, particularly in backyards in summer, when smog levels can reach unhealthy levels. The rules will also save people money, as they use less gas to whack weeds in the yard.
Small engines of this kind are highly polluting for their size because of inefficiencies and because these small engines have not been required to install catalytic converters.
The EPA claims the new rules will save 600,000 tons of hydrocarbons (which can be hazardous and cause smog), 130,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (which cause smog and acid rain), 5,500 tons of direct particulate matter (which can cause lung and heart disease) and 1.5 million tons of carbon monoxide (which is poisonous). EPA expects the new standards to save approximately 190 million gallons of gasoline each year (That's $307 million, at $3.70 a gallon.)
The EPA estimates that reducing this pollution will save America, by 2030, as many as 300 deaths, 1,700 hospitalizations and 23,000 lost workdays annually as much as $4.4 billion in health care costs.
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