Monday, April 24, 2006

Mowing over Clean Air

I have now mowed our yard 3 times in the last 2 weeks, as the grass grows fast thanks to cool Spring weather and long periods of rain. And given the hazy smog I've watched settling over the city during the hot days last week, a lot of other people are mowing their lawns, too.

I was once caught up in the struggle between manual reel mowers vs. gasoline-powered mowers, but now I'm on the otherside of the vigor of youth. I've sold out, since I am unwilling to forever sharpen those blamed reel mower blades and struggle against hills in ways I don't have to with my front-wheel drive. Now comes the good news that gas mowers can be fitted with golf-ball sized catalytic converters, which would cut down on noxious, smog-producing emissions. I'm all over that. I'd pay the 25$-50$ extra for an environmentally friendlier gas mower, because I'm not going back to reel mowers. My guess is that the demand for such a mower is sufficient among the large numbers who think smog is detrimental to their health.

But the NYTimes reports that our old friends, the corporate lobbyists, in tandem with a Republican Senator are fighting and throwing up obstacles to requiring gas mowers to meet clean air emissions standards much the same way that the auto industry lobby and powerful Motown congressional delegations obstructed legislation requiring cars to have catalytic converters and meet emissions standards in the 1970s. This is a no-brainer: mower engines contribute 93 times more noxious emissions than 2006 cars. Yet, the mower industry is stalling, saying it just needs one more study, and then it needs one more study after that. Meanwhile, we poor sap consumers are left with the choice of maintaining our lawns vs. sacrificing the quality of the air that we breath (not to mention the long-term negative affects on global warming, which will end up sacrificing the world we leave our children). I wish I could call for more studies to delay costs that I think are unnecessary.

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