Missouri, California Clash Over Air-Quality Plan

A proposal to reduce air pollution from lawn mowers and other gas-powered outdoor equipment has set the stage for a battle between the staid Midwestern state of Missouri and the kooky Californians. To help deal with the Golden State’s chronic air-quality problem, the California Air Resources Board plans to require manufacturers to equip all small gasoline engines sold in the state with catalytic converters beginning in 2008. That plan isn’t sitting well with Missouri Sen. Christopher Bond (R), whose state is home to two factories owned by Briggs and Stratton, the world’s largest manufacturer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor equipment. Bond fears that the California standards would be so costly that the company would move its factories out of the country, costing his state much-needed jobs. To prevent that, he added a provision to block the California plan to a 2004 spending bill that will be debated on the Senate floor later this month; Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both California Democrats, have vowed to fight it.