04.29.09

Leahy, Sanders And Welch Introduce ‘Greener Gardens Bill’ Giving Consumers Tax Incentives For Choosing Lower-Emissions Yard Equipment

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, April 29) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Wednesday introduced legislation to offer consumers a 25 percent tax credit toward the purchase of environmentally friendly lawn, garden, and forestry power equipment. 

In line with past tax credits that were successful in boosting consumer demand for environmentally friendly products like hybrid vehicles and energy efficient home appliances, the Vermont delegation’s new tax credit proposal would give Americans a powerful incentive to choose low-emission, alternative energy power equipment that is being developed using a variety of technologies.  Their bill would advance several national priorities, including cleaner air and water, reduced dependence on imported oil, and a boost for creating new jobs through new green technologies, such as engines powered by natural gas, solar energy, electricity, propane or hybrid sources. 

The Leahy-Sanders-Welch “Greener Gardens Act” would reduce air pollution more than new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines by providing an immediate incentive for people to purchase clean, alternative fuel engines that emit half of the EPA emissions levels and that operate on little or no fossil fuel. 

Leahy said, “Our bill would give consumers a practical incentive to choose low-emission lawn and garden equipment powered by alternative energy sources.”  Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, added, “Building early consumer demand for cleaner technologies is a proven way to create a growing market that can harness American ingenuity to create new jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

“This country must transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and move toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. The good news is that as we go forward in this process we can create millions of new, good-paying jobs,” said Sanders, chairman of the Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

 “By encouraging consumers to choose environmentally friendly outdoor equipment, we will continue to incentivize smart steps towards reducing our carbon footprint,” Welch said. “This tax credit will assist Vermont businesses that are already taking the lead in developing high-quality and low-impact outdoor equipment, and it will encourage them to expand and create more jobs in Vermont.”

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy,

“Introduction of Environmentally Friendly

Lawn, Garden, and Forestry Power Equipment Bill”

April 29, 2009

 Mr. President, I rise today with my good friend from Vermont, Senator Sanders, to introduce legislation that will help our environment and our economy by providing a 25 percent tax credit towards the purchase of environmentally friendly lawn, garden, and forestry power equipment.   

There are an estimated 50 million acres of lawns and managed turf grass in the United States, and the small engines used in power equipment predominantly used today to maintain these lawns emit a variety of pollutants that can be harmful to people and the environment.  By promoting the use of alternative fuels, we can reduce the carbon footprint of lawn and garden equipment and reduce air and water pollution.   

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a new emission control program to reduce hydrocarbon emissions and evaporative emissions from the small, spark-ignition engines that are commonly used in lawn, garden, and forestry equipment.  I applaud the EPA for setting these new emissions standards because they eventually will reduce the harmful health effects of ozone and carbon monoxide.  I also appreciate the work being done in the State of California to set the stage for these tougher standards and to provide State funds for rebates to consumers who purchase the cleanest types of lawn and garden equipment. 

We can do more, though, to advance the use of cleaner, alternative fueled equipment.  Currently, the cleanest, alternative powered equipment typically cost dramatically more to produce – in part due to their relatively low volumes – compared to higher volume products powered by traditional technologies.  Our bill is designed to help partially close this price differential so that consumers can afford the very cleanest products and help advance the most cutting-edge, new technologies.

That is why the bill we are introducing today would reduce air pollution even further than the EPA or California standards by providing an immediate incentive for people to go beyond the current powered equipment emission standards and purchase cleaner, alternatively powered or alternative fuel engines and equipment that emit half of the emission levels called for by the EPA and that operate on little or no fossil fuels.  In line with past tax credits that were successful in advancing new technologies and boosting consumer demand for environmentally friendly products like hybrid vehicles and energy efficient home appliances, our new tax credit would give Americans a powerful incentive to buy clean, alternative energy power equipment. 

I want to thank the Outdoor Power Equipment Instituteand the National Audubon Society for their early endorsements of this bill.  As the Senate prepares to take a thorough look at our energy and environmental policies this year, I look forward to working with my colleagues to find new ways to further reduce the air emissions and fossil fuel consumption of our nation’s lawn, garden, and forestry equipment. 

I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the bill be printed in the Record, and I yield the floor.  

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David Carle: 202-224-3693

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