If you want to be on the cutting edge of pollution control technology, be advised there's a long waiting list. The backup is not at the local recycling center, or even, for the moment, at the auto emission testing stations. It's the competition for free battery-powered lawn mowers that cut the air pollution and noise as they cut your grass.
Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is one of 10 utility companies nationwide that will each distribute 100 battery-driven mowers in a government-industry project to see how much electric mowers reduce pollution from the smoky output of 80 million gasoline powered mowers now in use. It's an admirable goal, because gasoline turf-trimmers cough out more smog-creating chemicals in an hour than driving an auto 50 miles. Gasoline-powered lawn equipment accounts for a significant 4 percent of hydrocarbon pollutants in the air, the Environmental Protection Agency calculates.
Trouble is, the electric company doesn't know when it will get the mowers and whether it will trade them free for old gas models, which EPA will then test. BG&E has been swamped by calls from volunteers, but there's no distribution plan yet.