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Small Engine Rule to Bring Big Emissions Cuts

Release Date: 04/17/2007
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C. - April 17, 2007) EPA continues to mow down harmful emissions from the nonroad sector with a new proposal that sets strict standards for most lawn and garden equipment and small recreational watercraft.

"From the largest locomotives to the smallest lawn mowers, EPA's current and planned clean air regulations will continue environmental progress, keeping the air cleaner than a generation ago," said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum.

The proposal is groundbreaking in several areas. To meet the new exhaust emission standards, manufacturers are expected to use catalytic converters for the first time ever in many types of small watercraft, lawn, and garden equipment. After rigorous analysis and extensive work with diverse stakeholders, EPA determined that such a strategy was feasible and safe. This proposed rule also includes the first ever…

  • Fuel evaporative standards for all the types of equipment and watercraft covered in the rulemaking
  • National standards for vessels powered by sterndrive or inboard engines and
  • Carbon monoxide standards for gasoline-powered engines used in recreational watercraft

Americans spend more than three billion hours per year using lawn and garden equipment. Currently, a push mower emits as much hourly pollution as 11 cars and a riding mower emits as much as 34 cars. With this proposed rule, nonroad gasoline-powered engines, such as those used in lawn and garden equipment, would see an additional 35 percent reduction in HC and NOx emissions beyond a 60 percent reduction that finished phasing in last year under an earlier rulemaking. Those engines would also see a 45 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.

Additionally, recreational watercraft can emit as much as 348 cars an hour. By 2030, recreational watercraft powered by gasoline engines would see a 70 percent reduction in smog-forming hydrocarbon (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), a 20 percent reduction in carbon monoxide (CO), and a 70 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions. When fully implemented, the rule would result in annual emission reductions of 630,000 tons of HC, 98,000 tons of NOx, 6,300 tons of direct particulate matter, and 2.7 million tons of CO.

The total estimated public health benefits of this rule are about $3.4 billion by 2030. These benefits would prevent 450 premature deaths, 500 hospitalizations, and 52,000 work days lost annually. When fully implemented, EPA expects that technology needed to meet the standard will have the added benefit of saving about 190 million gallons of fuel annually. The estimated costs of the new standards range from $9.5 million in 2008 to $620 million in 2037. These control costs are partially offset by estimated annual fuel savings of about $360 million in 2037 once standards are fully implemented. As a result, the net cost of the program in each year ranges from $6.4 million in 2008 to $260 million in 2037.

The new standards would apply as early as 2011 for most lawn and garden equipment (under 25 horsepower) and 2009 for watercraft.

Comments are due Aug. 3, 2007. The proposal and information about how to submit comments are at:
- Lawn and Garden (Small Gasoline) Equipment:
- Gasoline Boats and Personal Watercraft: