Alternative fuels and the continued reduction of emissions were among the major topics discussed by industry leaders at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute's (OPEI) 55th Annual Meeting held June 22 - 23 in Palm Beach, FL, US. OPEI's members manufacture over 95% of the U.S. consumer, retail, and commercial market for gas and electric powered walk-behind and riding mowers, garden tractors, snow throwers, chain saws, leaf blowers, edger/trimmers, engines, and other lawn and garden maintenance products.
"As an industry, we must visibly demonstrate our commitment as stewards of the environment. Our products are integral to the development and care of America's green spaces" stated Bill Harley, OPEI's president and CEO. "Outdoor power equipment is cleaner, quieter, and more efficient than ever before. Today's equipment is 70% cleaner than 1990's equipment. With the industry's continued investment in the latest technologies, our equipment will be 85% cleaner."
In his opening remarks, Fred Whyte, OPEI's immediate past chairman and president of Stihl, Inc., commented, "Our industry has made great strides in contributing to environmental solutions through cooperation and support with all phases of EPA emissions regulations. With new EPA Phase 3 regulations, ground supported exhaust emissions will be reduced an additional 35% of current levels by 2010."
John Shiely, OPEI Board member and chairman, president & CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation added, "Green lawns, parks, golf courses and forests depend on outdoor power equipment for proper maintenance and care. Proper maintenance of green spaces increases their ability to serve as carbon sinks. As an industry, our environmental mission is to keep the green greener."
OPEI is taking an assertive and active role in working with its members, government agencies, and other organizations to find ways to pursue safe and environmentally friendly solutions.
"In further support of the industry's commitment to environmental solutions, OPEI will develop position papers and public policy statements on a number of high priority issues including alternative fuels, emissions, global warming, chemical and nutrient usage, water management, and other concerns that call for active government engagement," stated Bob Hove, OPEI Board member and senior vice president of John Deere.
As part of its ongoing environmental activities, the OPEI recently supported an amendment introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee's (ENRC) Energy Bill (S 987) requiring federal agencies to study the impact of "mid-level" blends of ethanol gasoline (ethanol levels between 10% and 40%). The amendment was unanimously approved by the ENRC. According to OPEI's Harley, "Studying the impact of mid-level blends of ethanol gasoline on consumers, the environment, engine and equipment manufacturers, and gasoline retailers is extremely important for a full understanding of this issue."
The OPEI has also helped to spearhead the Alliance for a Safe Alternative Fuels Environment (ALLSAFE), a new coalition of consumer and user groups and manufacturing associations to help assure the safe and successful introduction of new bio-based fuels