Lawnmowers Phased Out

A plan to rid the nation's smoggiest region of gas-powered lawn mowers, which keep Southern California's green grass neat but turn the blue skies brown, was approved yesterday by air quality officials. The program is similar to the district's program to scrap old clunker cars, which has taken more than 7,000 highly polluting vehicles off the road since 1994. The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a rule that allows businesses to earn pollution reduction credits by replacing high-polluting lawn and garden equipment with low or zero emitting models, such as those powered by electricity. "Our hope, through this program, is that we'll phase out the use of gasoline mowers, because they are very significant polluters," said district spokesman Sam Atwood. In Southern California, an estimated 1.73 million commercial and residential mowers, leaf-blowers and other utility tools emit 22 tons per day of volatile organic compounds. That's more nasty stuff than is discharged by all aircraft in the region, the air quality district said. The district is the air pollution control agency for Los Angeles and Orange counties and portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. An older, gas-powered lawn mower operating for 20 hours a year produces the same amount of smog-forming volatile organic compounds as a 1996 car driven for 26,000 miles, said James M. Lents the district's executive officer. Under the program, businesses can earn emission reduction credits by offering rebates, discounts or other incentives for homeowners to trade in old lawn mowers, edgers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chain saws or other power garden equipment. * * *


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