Texas bans morning use of outdoor power equipment

Down in Texas, homeowners and all non-commercial operators of gasoline powered outdoor power equipment will be exempt from a ban on morning use of this equipment in the Houston area.

Additionally, commercial operators who submit an acceptable emission-reduction plan will also be exempt. Although the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and its members argued strongly in favor of eliminating the entire ban, these two conditions are a significant improvement over the original proposal.

Last summer, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) proposed to ban morning use of all outdoor power equipment in the Houston metropolitan area as part of the Texas State Implementation Plan. Since that time, OPEI has devoted significant resources toward influencing the proposed ban.

Although the final rule has been issued, it will not take effect until 2005. And there are still some ongoing issues centering primarily on the type of emission-reduction plans that commercial operators must submit by May 31, 2003, to TNRCC and the Environmental Protection Agency for approval by May 31, 2004. TNRCC must ensure that “the collective emission reductions achieved by the plans are equivalent to the ozone reductions achieved by the implementation of the original proposed rules.”

Commercial operators will have several still-undefined options in developing these plans. A major concern of OPEI is that these reduction plans fully comply with the federal preemption requirements of the Clean Air Act. Under these provisions, individual states, such as Texas, cannot directly or indirectly require engine or equipment manufacturers to “go above and beyond” the federal emission regulations by having to supply a state with a unique category of “super clean” products. The federal Phase I and new Phase II emission regulations require all outdoor power equipment to meet very stringent emission standards, generally pursuant to a phased-in schedule.

In light of the substantial emission reductions that will result from the federal Phase I and Phase II emission regulations (compared to the relatively modest reductions that would result from the Houston use ban), OPEI will continue to try to persuade the Texas regulators to eliminate their modified ban which will still be difficult and not cost-effective to implement. To achieve that end, OPEI will continue to work with Texas regulators in the development of a more accurate assessment of the rule’s emission benefits.

Source: PGMS Grounds Management Forum

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