At least in California. According to an NPR report I heard yesterday (2/28), these will be the biggest ozone polluters in that state—pulling ahead of cars—within three years. Most Rant readers know how much we (at least Susan and I and probably our partners as well) hate these evil machines, but I never thought anybody would do anything punitive about them.
You probably know the reason they’ll get worse than cars: inadequate emission standards, while cars adhere to fairly strict regulations. Of course, these standards are controlled by the EPA, so it looks like we’ll have to depend on states for this kind of air quality oversight, given the current federal situation. I don’t use the term “evil” lightly. The fumes and particulates from these are deadly for the landscape crews that regularly use them. They damage eyes, ears, and lungs, aggravating any respiratory problems, contributing to cardiac problems, and causing hearing loss. So it’s more than just the human health problems that eventually result from large-scale environmental damage.
There is no drastic action planned in CA yet, just stricter emission standards and incentive programs for alternatives. But, given the ubiquity of these machines, it’s heartening. Makes sense that it’s happening there, too, given their long growing season. I hope it will inspire New York, as we tend to be friendly to environmental regulation here, a fact I become more grateful for (among others) every time I read the paper.