US EPA Moves to Clean Up Emissions From Nonroad Gas Engines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today took action to cut pollution from a major source of summertime smog and to protect human health by finalizing clean air standards for nonroad gasoline engines. These include smaller gasoline engines that power lawn equipment and personal marine watercraft.

"Cleaner lawn mowers means less summertime smog and healthier air for millions of kids," said Environmental Defense Fund Deputy General Counsel Vickie Patton. "These new clean air standards will reduce dangerous smog pollution from high-emitting gasoline engines while helping to cut costs at the gas pump."

EPA's new standards will protect human health through a combination of limits on the evaporative pollution from gas tanks and emission standards that require cleaner engines.

The new standards will be phased in beginning in 2010, depending on engine type, and will annually cut smog-forming volatile organic compounds by 600,000 tons and smog-forming oxides of nitrogen by 150,000 tons when fully implemented.

These gasoline-powered engines release up to 25 percent of the gasoline unburned in their exhaust, so cleaner emission standards also help save fuel costs at the pump.

EPA estimates that these gasoline engines are responsible for about 15 percent of the nation's hydrocarbon pollution, a key ingredient in urban ozone or "smog." These engines are predominantly used in the summer time when ozone pollution is an acute health concern.

Ground-level ozone or "smog" is associated with respiratory illness, impaired lung function and death. In addition, ground-level ozone is a potent contributor to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment report found that, of all air pollution caused by human activities, ground-level ozone is behind only carbon dioxide and methane in contributing to climate change.

There are more than 50 million pieces of lawn and garden equipment in use across the country today. One riding lawn mower emits as much hourly pollution as about 34 cars.

"These small engines are big polluters," concluded Patton. "Finalizing protective clean air standards for these engines is an important step toward healthy air for the millions of Americans living in neighborhoods and communities with unhealthy ozone pollution levels."

EPA published draft emission standards in May 2007.

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