Senate Says No to California Plan to Cut Small-Engine Pollution

California’s cutting-edge environmental policies were dealt a blow yesterday when the U.S. Senate voted to prevent the state from regulating air pollution from small engines such as those found in gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and weed whackers. Although lawn equipment is small, its environmental impact is huge — accounting for 10 percent of pollution from mobile sources — and almost wholly unregulated. California sought to change that by requiring that new small engines come equipped with catalytic converters, a move that would have eliminated as much air pollution as taking 1.8 million cars off the roads. But Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) took issue with the plan, because his state is home to the nation’s largest maker of small engines. Bond proposed an amendment to a spending bill banning the California plan; it was approved by a voice vote over objections from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).