Thursday, June 09, 2005

Update on Kit Bond and his dirty-air scheme on behalf of Briggs & Stratton

Here is a very quick update for folks who are keeping an eye on the effort by Senator Kit Bond of Missouri to undermine efforts by EPA (and California) to set better pollution standards for lawn mowers and other small engines:

· The full Senate Appropriations Committee will likely take up the matter today at 2pm EDT, when it looks at the parent spending bill for EPA and other federal agencies.

· We hear there are some negotiations happening offstage before that meeting, but we can’t predict the outcome at this time.

· As you know, the state and local air pollution regulators (STAPPA and ALAPCO) sent a letter late yesterday to Congress, urging that the Bond rider be struck from the EPA spending bill.

· In a meeting with reporters yesterday, new EPA chief Steve Johnson reportedly said EPA has “no position” on the Bond amendment. For those of you familiar with the unfortunate tendency of some government officials to evade the truth and to be more concerned with internal politics than the public good, I think it is fair to speculate that the real reason for EPA’s public reticence is concern that telling the truth on this might prompt Bond to interfere with the confirmation process of Marcus Peacock as Johnson’s new deputy.

· Two other items that might be food for thought: as has been well reported, Bond is promoting this anti-clean air position on behalf of Briggs & Stratton, which I believe is the nation’s largest maker of small gasoline engines. One of Briggs& Stratton’s rivals – Honda – believes there is no fire safety issue associated with making these devices cleaner, and in fact has said so in testimony to the California state government. I understand that Honda is willing to reiterate that view (David Raney 310-383-6127). And just a final note: I am informed that Briggs & Stratton has sold quite a few small engines equipped with catalytic converters to the European market. Somehow fire has not been an issue there.

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