The mother of invention

EPA's proposed ruling will require manufacturers to step up efforts to develop cleaner technologies.

More and more, we're seeing headlines warning us about the precarious state of the environment. Scientists have been telling us for years that we must change some of our habits or there will be dire circumstances for future generations and even possibly, within our lifetime. There is much work to be done, but certainly every little bit of effort helps.

With that in mind, I would like to applaud a recent move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to further reduce exhaust and fuel evaporative emissions from outdoor power equipment. Just last month, the EPA issued a proposed ruling on small engines, representing the third generation of small off-road standards in the past 13 years. During that time, improvements in outdoor power equipment design have resulted in the reduction of exhaust emissions by over 70 percent. According to EPA, the proposed Phase III regulations would achieve an additional 35-percent reduction in exhaust emissions and a 45-percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.

Despite the stringency of the proposed standards, the effective dates are very aggressive. In fact, the proposed fuel line requirements for low-permeation fuel lines would start as soon as Jan. 1, 2008, which is before the rule is finalized. While this puts a considerable burden on manufacturers to research, design, develop and field test complex emission control technologies, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has stated it supports EPA's proposed ruling. "If provided with adequate lead time and needed flexibility, our industry is cautiously optimistic that we can meet the significant technological challenges and infrastructural developments associated with the EPA program," says Bill Harley, president and CEO of OPEI.

At the end of the day, there is really no choice. The handwriting is and has been on the wall for a long time where the environment is concerned. All individuals and businesses must do their part to reduce pollution and prevent further damage to our natural resources. While the task at hand is formidable for manufacturers, it's amazing what can be achieved through technological advances when push comes to shove. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

In the coming months, we will take a more in-depth look at the proposed EPA ruling and what it means to your business. In the meantime, be mindful of the effect you and your business practices have on the environment. Whenever possible, find ways to reduce consumption, reuse resources and recycle your waste. The future depends on it.