in the Weedeater
June 5, 2002
By Joseph Arrieta
A striking revolution in internal combustion technology is
quietly rippling through the neighborhoods of America. It’s
a heartening story of regulation, change, triumph and hope
that hardly anyone knows about.
The two-stroke engine is the dirtiest engine on the planet--the
small portable workhorses that power trimmers, leaf blowers
With California showing the lead, the EPA decided in 1998
to finally regulate those emissions on two-stroke engines.
For once it wasn’t just window dressing, either: the cut was
mandated at an 80% reduction. Yes, 80%.
Predictably, the manufacturers screamed bloody murder and
frantically claimed that it couldn’t be done. There was a
little problem in their response, though—it wasn’t unified.
A few brave companies just shut up and got to work. (1)
When they produced engines that did indeed cut emissions
by 80% the EPA examined the data, looked at the companies
and said, sorry, it’s been demonstrated it can be done. So
shut up or get out of the business.
None of them shut up. Some kept the existing two-stroke paradigm
and extensively modified fuel intake mixtures and combustion
techniques. Two switched to a 4 stroke, spending many millions
of dollars to eliminate the previous weight problems.
All of those manufacturers are still in business, still making
money, still producing quality products that do the job. They
just have 80% (!) less emissions.
Yesterday the White House released a report that finally
stated what everybody on the planet knew except the people
who watch Fox News: that man-made emissions do indeed influence
global climate changes. For the worse. But they’re not going
to do anything about it.
Malfeasance. Irresponsibility. Denial. Stupidity. Dishonesty.
All of those characterizations about this White House concerning
internal combustion emissions are true, but they mask the
real reason they refuse to do anything: this White House,
like the devil’s handmaiden, is the protector of Greed and
The oil companies are rightly concerned that a reduction
in emissions will, of course, mean less fuel consumed. Never
underestimate the ability of this administration to coddle
and protect the oil industry. From the President and VP on
down, the cabinet is full of oil executives. No matter the
national, environmental, or security interest threatened by
oil consumption, George Bush has chosen oil company greed
The auto manufacturers are petrified of abandoning their
emission-heavy SUV money-makers. Better-managed, more nimble
manufacturers (the Japanese) could meet the standards faster
with better cars than they could and crush them in the market.
To meet that challenge would mean extensive, hard work—-work
they could easily fail at, given their past record of production
performance. Fear of change is the driving force behind their
strenuous objections to tough emission standards, nothing
The White House coddles their fear, of course. Leadership
requires courage. As the day of 9/11 so aptly showed, courage
is a character trait George Bush has in very short supply.
The two-stroke revolution shows us all what can happen when
regulators get tough and companies abandon their fear and
greed to do the right thing. The only reason it happened this
time is that most of the work in formulating the new rules
occurred under Bill Clinton’s watch, a Democrat.
Today is June 5th, 2002. George Bush has approximately 915
days left to diddle away our environmental, national, and
international security ignoring auto emission regulation.
Once those 915 days are finally over we can look forward to
a Democrat in leading this country out of our climate change
Fortune Magazine, May 13th, Matthew Boyle http://www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channel=artcol.jhtml&doc_id=207786
“I was trying to get out of harm’s way,” Bush said on his
latest trip to Europe, referring to his jaunt to Nebraska