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EPA Sets Tighter LawnMower Emission Rules:

Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency finalized new regulations governing emissions from gasoline-powered lawn and marine engines (e.g. lawnmowers, weed trimmers, motorboat engines, etc.). "EPA's new small engine standards will allow Americans to cut air pollution as well as grass," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. According to the Washington Post story:

Environmentalists, who noted that one riding lawn mower emits as much pollution in an hour as 34 cars, said the move would protect the environment and promote energy efficiency. Because spark-ignition engines release as much as 25 percent of their gas unburned in their exhaust, the EPA also estimates that the regulations, when fully implemented, will lead to a more efficient combustion process that will save about 190 million gallons of gasoline each year.

It seems that much of industry is willing to accept the rules, so they might not face a court challenge. If so, that would be good news for the EPA, which has not had much luck defending Clean Air Act regulations under the Bush Administration.

J. Aldridge:
Also seems much of industry is willing to accept the legitimacy for the EPA to exist under the Constitution. If you accept a intruder in your home chances are that intruder will hang around for a while.
9.5.2008 10:22am
TJIC (www):
For the record, Americans were "allowed" to cut air pollution before - now they're being forced to.
9.5.2008 10:36am
Daran (mail):
To a certain extend the new regulations make current inventory and refurbishments obsolete; industry probably does not mind that. Likewise low-quality/cost manufacturers (*cough* China *cough*) are probably more affected. (Over)regulation protects the incumbent at the consumers cost.
9.5.2008 10:40am
Hoosier:
What EVER!

Now I have something to tell my wife when college football is on the tube. "Honey, I'm just not sure I should be cutting the grass at this time. Think of the polar bears."
9.5.2008 11:14am
K. Dackson (mail):
Gotta love this spin on how it will save gas:


...the EPA also estimates that the regulations, when fully implemented, will lead to a more efficient combustion process that will save about 190 million gallons of gasoline each year.



Or about 1.5 gallons of gas per year for each person in the US.

Same benefit as if a family of 4 would drive 150 miles less per year (6 gal x 25 MPG).

Big flipping deal.
9.5.2008 11:20am
some dude:
It seems that much of industry is willing to accept the rules
Much of the established industry may be willing to accept the rules. What about new upstarts? More barriers to new competition.
9.5.2008 11:21am
K. Dackson (mail):
Or about 3 miles less per week.

Yeah, that will end our dependence on foriegn oil and obviate the need for more drilling.
9.5.2008 11:22am
The Unbeliever:
Hypocrites! If they were serious about saving gas, they would have mandated unpowered push reel mowers instead!

Just think of all the polar bears you could save by sweating for hours on a Saturday.
9.5.2008 12:07pm
Bebo (mail):
Amazing how people think they have the right to do as they please when it harms others. When the majority of the people of the USA demand that we cut pollution any way we can it is the responsibility of the government to force those who think that freedom means they have the right to do anything they please into compliance. Yes, force you to conserve, Yes force you to pollute less.

Bebo - standing back behind the bullet proof glass and dodging the hangernades that will now be tossed from this site.
9.5.2008 12:13pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

Amazing how people think they have the right to do as they please when it harms others.


If every thing you do affects others in some way, then by your theory, how dare anyone claim a right to live as they please, instead of how others would arrange for them. Yes, that is the liberal vision of humanity in a nutshell.

Please do not rattle your chains in public. It's unseemly.
9.5.2008 12:18pm
Happyshooter:
Does anyone remember the good old days when lawn mower engines were made out of grey iron and the tolerances were so loose any 12-year old could fix them?

Looks like those days are over.
9.5.2008 12:32pm
one of many:
If every thing you do affects others in some way, then by your theory, how dare anyone claim a right to live as they please, instead of how others would arrange for them. Yes, that is the liberal vision of humanity in a nutshell.



bravo. And I might add that Bebo harmed my brain with his (her? will go with male 'cause its Friday but don't read anything into it) reasoning, so we can be fairly certain that he is a hypocrite since he polluted my air by using a computer to post it.

BTW does anyone know what a hangernade is? nevermind, I usually don't pick on spelling errors and now I realize it was hand grenade, just was reading it as some variation of hanger, as in hook or coat hanger, and couldn't for the life of me figure out what a hangernade was.
9.5.2008 12:33pm
SeaDrive:
The change in outboard motors has been going on over the last several years. It put one of the major players (OMC) out of business when their new, "greener", product didn't work very well at first. (I guess it's a success under Bombardier which bought OMC's business.) As with cars, the new engines are better, but more expensive, and more complicated.

Frankly, you've got to be an idiot to believe that the free market will take care of the environment. There is a huge body of evidence to the contrary.
9.5.2008 12:36pm
Hoosier:
Bebo - standing back behind the bullet proof glass and dodging the hangernades that will now be tossed from this site.

Great. Bebo calles on the government to use force, and then hides in his bullet-proof box.

Like the rest of us have one of those . . .
9.5.2008 12:36pm
Saucer:

Or about 1.5 gallons of gas per year for each person in the US.

Same benefit as if a family of 4 would drive 150 miles less per year (6 gal x 25 MPG).

Big flipping deal.


You missed "also" in the article. Now, return to issue of how much AIR pollution those 190 000 000 gallons a year produce. You don't mind that pollution until landscaper shows up on your lawn next door and spews fumes right into you bedroom.

Remember, now you can manufacture whatever you can sell. Equipment does not count like cars.
9.5.2008 12:44pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
Not that I am pro-regulation or anything, but some days, when I sit on my front porch, I feel like I am listening to airplanes take off for the Battle of Britain for hours as various landscape contractors assault my ears with their mowers and blowers. I hope that any new regulations for small motors will require mufflers. Noise is a form of pollution too.
9.5.2008 1:20pm
Fub:
Saucer wrote at 9.5.2008 11:44am:
You missed "also" in the article. Now, return to issue of how much AIR pollution those 190 000 000 gallons a year produce. You don't mind that pollution until landscaper shows up on your lawn next door and spews fumes right into you bedroom.
A drop in the bucket compared to the air pollution that blows into American airspace daily, courtesy of almost two new coal-fired power plants per week in Communist China, the environmentalists' friends who can do no wrong.
9.5.2008 1:37pm
The General:
Bebo, your idiocy offends and thus harms me. How dare you think such horrendous thoughts and say such an insulting and stupid thing without considering the harm you perpetrate on others.

I hope you won't mind if the government comes to lock you up because you HARMED OTHERS!
9.5.2008 2:13pm
The General:
gas powered lawnmowers = harming others, government is required to step in and act to save us from ourselves.

incandescent light bulbs = harming others, government is required to step in and act to save us from ourselves.

high flow toilets = harming others, government is required to step in and act to save us from ourselves.

Low mileage big trucks and SUVs = harming others, government is required to step in and act to save us from ourselves.

abortion/killing unborn human life (or born human life, for Obamacidal maniacs) = not harming others. government has no say. kill away so as not to be punished with a child.
9.5.2008 2:17pm
RowerinVa (mail):
On the contrary, Bebo et al., I agree with you from a very libertarian perspective. Real libertarians recognize that government has a role when individual behavior creates real, negative externalities that persuasive economic incentives fail to address. To the traditional libertarian list of proper uses of government (police, military, certain functions for courts) most of us now add certain environmental restrictions. For example, you shouldn't be able to shoot all the migratory birds on your own land, and it's no answer to give an older libertarian response such as "just let the other bird lovers sue if they can prove an injury" because there is too great a problem with proving private-plaintiff injury that courts are likely to protect, to say nothing of the collective action problem.

Moving to the specifics, air quality is a classic justification for government action that passes this newer libertarian test. When you pollute the air, you cause injury that is virtually untraceable -- even less traceable than the migratory birds from my earlier example. Private damages actions are worthless to prevent small-scale pollution like this.

Further into the specifics, one-cylinder and two-stroke engines like the ones mentioned in this article are unbelievably dirty. IMHO, the EPA hasn't even gone far enough. My only libertarian quibble is that I wouldn't ban these engines; instead, I would tax them severely. Where there is an externality, build that externality into the price via a tax (or call it whatever you'd like), then let the market equilibrate.

To be a good libertarian, you need to be a passable economist and historian. Theory is nice, but historically, we know what happens without environmental laws that build environmental externalities into free market prices. Yes, free markets are better for the environment than socialist markets, even when free markets do not have environmental laws, but they aren't good enough. Smart, libertarian, incentives-savvy, market-respecting environmental laws are possible, and very wise. The key is to leave markets intact, and have an "enforcement" rather than a "regulatory" mindset.
9.5.2008 2:46pm
SATA_Interface:
So Fub, then because the other guy is doing it more and worse, we are okay to continue doing something that is not helpful? That's the torture argument "He's chopping heads off, so I'm going to keep electroshocking anyone dumb enough to get captured". Not much of a policy position, is it?

And The General, who is killing born human life? That sounds pretty scary to me.
9.5.2008 3:02pm
one of many:
Rower while I have problem with you reasoning, and many people who are libertarians follow it (see Blogs like the this for examples) I have difficulty accepting that is a libertarian one, or even derivable from traditional libertarianism. perhaps you can explain how you get from the libertarian first principle, individuals have rights and only individuals have rights to allowing collective action to protect the individual rights of a group because the harm to individual rights because we can assume a harm to individual rights by proving a possibility that the rights may have been violated? Perhaps you can explain it better than you have, but that's my take on your argument for it being a libertarian position.
9.5.2008 3:15pm
one of many:
erg, that should be I have no problem with your reasoning.
9.5.2008 3:34pm
Benido:
Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.
9.5.2008 3:36pm
K. Dackson (mail):
Saucer:


You missed "also" in the article. Now, return to issue of how much AIR pollution those 190 000 000 gallons a year produce. You don't mind that pollution until landscaper shows up on your lawn next door and spews fumes right into you bedroom.

Remember, now you can manufacture whatever you can sell. Equipment does not count like cars.


Wow. Utterly nonsenscial. This is the lie - trying to show people how important it is by quoting a "big" number.

Saving 190 MMgal/gas a year is a drop in the bucket. If every four people drive a total of 3 miles less per week it would come to the same savings.

And, FWIW, the amount of "pollution" as measured in CO2 is independent of how you burn it - in a car, in a lawn mower, or in a puddle in the street.

I thought we were supposed to do a cost/benefit analysis when making policies. It seems someone missed this big time.

And as for your concerns re: the landscaper, close the windows while he's there.
9.5.2008 3:38pm
incongruities (mail) (www):
"spark-ignition engines release as much as 25 percent of their gas unburned in their exhaust,"

So considering the past several decades that means that what, billions of gallons of gasoline are floating around in the air? So we ought to be able to set up some air scrubbers and just start taking that gas back out of the air right?
9.5.2008 3:56pm
one of many:

So considering the past several decades that means that what, billions of gallons of gasoline are floating around in the air? So we ought to be able to set up some air scrubbers and just start taking that gas back out of the air right?


Don't be silly, it just gets mixed into the fuel-air mixture of your car allowing you to run on a leaner (less gasoline) mixture. No need to set up scrubbers for it.
9.5.2008 4:16pm
Hoosier:
Just out of curiosity, how recently could the header of this thread have made a credible "Onion" headline?
9.5.2008 4:23pm
joshb:
Let's set some priorities here: First, let's mandate that all third-worlders have California-style air quality regulations, which would mean computer and catalytic converter-equipped vehicles. Perhaps then we can fool around with outboard motors and lawnmowers.

N.B. To eliminate the tragedy of leaf blower noise, let's enact legislation prohibiting illegal aliens from operating small engines.
9.5.2008 4:23pm
K. Dackson (mail):

So considering the past several decades that means that what, billions of gallons of gasoline are floating around in the air? So we ought to be able to set up some air scrubbers and just start taking that gas back out of the air right?


Don't be silly, it just gets mixed into the fuel-air mixture of your car allowing you to run on a leaner (less gasoline) mixture. No need to set up scrubbers for it.



Yeah, right. This is why I love it when lawyers talk about something they know nothing about.

What happens is that the volatile organic components (VOCs) react with sunlight to form lower chain hydrocarbons and ozone - these are a major component of smog (when combined with particulates int he air). Complete combustion converts all of the fuel into CO2. A byproduct of combustion - (nitrogen oxides - NOx) form due to a high temperatures reaction with the O2 and N2 in air.

So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. To get the most energy from the fuel you need the high temperatures - giving you more NOx. If you have incomplete combustion, you get more smog.
9.5.2008 4:27pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Rower's (and indeed many psuedo-libertarians') problem is that they take the "your right to swing your arm ends at my face" principle, and proceed to redefine the face to some absurd extreme so that you may not move at all. They are also fans of taxing something out of existence then claiming they haven't banned it.
9.5.2008 4:28pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

Yeah, right. This is why I love it when lawyers talk about something they know nothing about.


Like sarcasm?
9.5.2008 4:29pm
K. Dackson (mail):
Ryan:

Lawyers get all bent out of shape when a non-lawyer offers an opinion. When a lawyer offers an opinion that is based on nonsense and is called on it, they always try to deflect the blame for their ignorance esewhere.

Try to learn something new. I hope you can.
9.5.2008 4:52pm
Anonymous #000:
K. Dackson,

I'm going to break down this miscommunication, because I think it applies to some of the flood of political comments in recent days on this site. I hope it's not too far off point.

incongruities made a joke based on a statement from the article taken to absurdity. Then "one of many" responded with sarcasm. Then you responded by implying that lawyers posting on this thread are out of their element (of course, not all of us are lawyers by trade or education), and continuing with what appears to be a dry explanation of how exhaust really behaves in the atmosphere. Though I must admit, my eyes kept glazing over with the chemistry. Then Ryan Waxx responded with a bit of snark to your lawyer crack by indicating that you mistook the sarcastic post by "one of many" to be serious, and you responded to that in an unpleasant manner with your own sarcasm which seems to indicate that you think the posters to whom you've responded are arrogant lawyers (however deserved the reputation) out of their element in discussing lawn mower emissions.

Is that about right?
9.5.2008 5:46pm
K. Dackson (mail):
Sometimes it's very difficult to tell the difference between absurdity and ignorance.

And I have had the debate with lawyers expressing the need to state their ignorant opinions on scientific fact on other threads - simply because they "feel they have a right to their opinions.

I scoff.
9.5.2008 6:45pm
Anonymous #000:
And I thought lawyers were humorless!

I think somebody needs to start a lawyer joke thread to shake out some of these nervious jigglies left over from the conventions. Magic fuel saver device jokes based on the claim of incomplete combustion just aren't going to cut it.
9.5.2008 7:06pm
Lord Ben (mail):
I work at a company that makes lawnmower engines, this change has been coming for years now because California passed this a few years ago and the rest of the nation follows. So engine makers have already had to adapt, why fight it again?

The downside is that it makes engines far more expensive to make, which makes it easier to fix old mowers instead of buying a new one, which makes hundreds of people here lose their jobs... :(
9.5.2008 8:28pm
one of many:
M.s Dackson, Waxx and Anon.

I strenuously object to the characterization of my post as sarcasm. It might just barely have crossed into snark and did indeed involve irony but in no way rose to being sarcasm. Joke building is not intended to belittle the teller of the original joke, but is instead paying tribute to ingenuity to original concept of the joke and using it to launch another joke.
9.6.2008 1:49am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Well, for Dackson's peace of mind, can you confirm that you did NOT seriously mean that free-floating fuel in the atmosphere is causing better MPG in our cars?
9.6.2008 9:19am
Anonymous #000:
one of many,

I did not intend to imply that you were trying to contradict inconguities, just that you kept running with the joke in a different direction. For what it's worth, I appreciated it and laughed. And I thought it manifestly obvious all of our intents (to commiserate and belittle a regulation most of us didn't think politically viable a short many years ago).
9.6.2008 11:44am
one of many:
Certainly, M. Waxx I will confirm that it was not intended to be taken seriously. When I first read M. Dackson's post I was looking for the joke - incomplete combustion causes smog which causes an inversion layer which heats the area below it including the engine, resulting in more complete combustion resulting in less smog - or something like that, a nice Goldberg. Unfortunately humour that has to be explained is not funny.

Anon, I wasn't seriously offended, I should have thrown a few more cues in to make that clear, perhaps some "nay"s and convoluted rhetoric. Despite how you feel about Jim Lingren's definition of sarcasm I think most people can agree that there has to be some meanness for something to be sarcastic (I forget the etymology but doesn't it come from the Greek "tear to pieces" or something similar?) Oh well, maybe the VC (this whole intertubes thingie) needs a [humour] HTML tag.
9.6.2008 1:29pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Frankly, you've got to be an idiot to believe that the free market will take care of the environment. There is a huge body of evidence to the contrary.'

Amen to that. Next time you're in east Tennessee, take a detour to Ducktown. I know, you've never heard of it. Go anyway. You will be enlightened.
9.6.2008 1:53pm