EPA acts on mowers, trimmers, blowers


Last week the EPA finally released a rule requiring a 35 percent reduction in emissions from these common garden power tools – in 2011.  In effect, manufacturers will have to install catalytic converters, similar to the ones required for automobiles since 1975.  Amazing how the industry managed to resist this for so long, huh?  Well, the story of how that happened is classic politics as usual.  After California passed a similar requirement in 2003, Briggs & Stratton in Missouri got their senator, Kit Bond, to intervene on their behalf and forbid other states from following suit.  EPA was charged with ruling on the matter.

From this story about the new rule I learn that Maryland’s Black & Decker stands to benefit from the move – because all its products are electric! And I see this impressive page on their website.   Now don’t anybody tell me they’re actually a sweatshop or something, coz I DO like to find corporate good guys occasionally, especially if they’re neighbors.

Read more.

I was informed of EPA’s announcement by the activists in my town moving to ban ALL gas-powered garden equipment within city limits.  I said YES, I’ll be there for the city council’s "work session," and if it proves to be as interesting as I think it will be, you’ll read about it right here.


  1. Did you know that Maricopa County, AZ has (or at least, had) a requirement that you had to pass a basic skills/courtesy course to use a leaf blower commercially? I only mention it as an alternative to a knee-jerk “no gas-powered tools” ordinance. Somehow, I don’t think the five minutes my guys ran the leaf-blower today after we finished mulching was the most obnoxious thing in the world. Given that it had already drizzled twice, it allowed me to leave the site much cleaner than if I had spent 30 minutes with a broom…

  2. Well, just 30 years ago, there were no leaf blowers. The world turned. Gardens thrived. Homeowners survived.

    I personally would like to go from a knee-jerk “no gas-powered tools” to a much more sensible “no leaf blowers”. And suggest an attitude adjustment for the home owners who can’t live with a few leaves on their pavement.

    Living in the burbs, here isn’t a day in the week where I don’t listen to at least 2 (two) hours of mowing and blowing from one of my neighbors. Including Saturday. Never mind the air pollution, I’m tired of the noise pollution.

    (Five minutes? That seems like an impossible dream. And the gardeners think the homeowner will think they don’t do anything if there aren’t two hours of continuous noise).


  3. I love my B&D GrassHog (it’s an electric string trimmer), but even thought it’s electric, it’s still really noisy.

    Definitely hate the noise pollution more than the air pollution, but then if I start thinking about all the gas mowers, just spewing ghastly stuff, it makes me pretty crazed, so I won’t.

    I did convert to a push mower last year, mostly because my Toro died and couldn’t justify the price of getting a new one. I like it (mostly b/c of the sound reduction), but doubt gas guzzlers will be replaced any time soon. Sigh…

  4. Woops! Forgot to mention…Kit Bond is loathsome. I lived in Missouri when he ran for Senate after the Democratic incumbent died. No surprise he’s on the payroll of agribusiness.

  5. Few things look sillier than a man with a large leaf blower chasing a single leaf down a driveway. And don’t tell me you’ve never seen it….

  6. Thank goodness they are finally doing something about all the pollution being spewed by power garden tools. Now if they could just do something about the deafening noise . . .

  7. RenateKa- yep, five minutes. We give the surfaces a quick broom-clean, then pull out the blower to finish up.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no OPEI cheerleader. The damn teenager across the street spent literally four hours a day last fall using a handheld leafblower to rake leaves (lazy little brat). But I think when it comes to legislating absolutes, people forget that for those of us doing this professionally, efficiency is key. Homeowners expect a site to be left just so, and they’re not going to pay for the extra labor time to broom clean everything. The alternative is to hose everything down when we’re done, which is absurd. You can’t tell me that sending a couple hundred gallons of fresh drinking water down the storm drain actually makes MORE sense than five minutes with a leaf blower.

  8. I must agree with Dave. There’s a time and a place for (almost) everything.

    Excess noise pollution should already be covered under noise or nuisance laws. Push for better enforcement or stronger laws if that’s your problem.

    But don’t restrict things out of hand unless there is no other way.

    (btw, I don’t own a leaf blower, electric or otherwise)

  9. I was searching for my leaf blower today. It must have gotten covered by stuff in the storage shed cause my husband said it was there after I couldn’t find it.

  10. The solution to leaf blowers has been invented see the site www,vm-enterprises.com

    It’s called a SHAKE an attachment that turns a push shovel into a push rake.
    It is to raking as the push shovel is to snow shovelling, but without the heavy wieght of snow.


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