Want to mow your lawn? Better check with the Environmental Protection Agency first.

Last Friday the EPA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that would impose a number of unthinkable regulations on the economy and everyday life. One of many is regulation the emissions of a lawnmower. This would require the agency to create different regulations and units of emissions requirements for each gadget that pollutes. Page 337 of the EPA’s ANPR reads,

“[E]ach application could require a different unit of measure tied to the machine’s mission or output– such as grams per kilogram of cuttings from a “standard” lawn for lawnmowers and grams per kilogram-meter of load lift for forklifts.”

If one considers all the non-road greenhouse gas emitting sources that need to be regulated, this would not only be a daunting task that would require a great deal of time and human capital, but it would also be very costly.

As George Mason economist Walter Williams explains, often policymaking considers the benefits, which are questionable in the ANPR, without fully understanding the costs:

“According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 43,220 highway fatalities in 2003 with an estimated cost of $230 billion. A five mph speed limit would have spared our nation of this loss of life and billions of dollars. Most people would agree that a five mph speed limit is stupid, impractical and insane. That’s one way of putting it but what they really mean is: the benefit of saving 43,200 highway deaths and the $230 billion, that would result from mandating a five mph speed limit, isn’t worth all the inconvenience, delays and misery.”

Speaking of speed limit regulations, the EPA’s proposed rulemaking also notes on page 324 that “vehicle speed is the single largest operational factor affecting CO2 emissions from large trucks,” and that “every mph increase above 55 mph increases CO2 emissions by more than 1%.” The ANPR puts speed limiters on large trucks on the table as a means of reducing carbon dioxide.

The ANPR will now move through a 120-day comment period. During these four months, the EPA should strongly consider the inconvenience, misery and massive costs they will impose on the American public if the agency is granted this unprecedented authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.