updated 12/5/2003 3:10:39 PM ET 2003-12-05T20:10:39

A measure that would have precluded California and other states from imposing clean air regulations on lawn mowers and other small engines was removed from a spending bill, thanks in part to lobbying by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“The battle is not over,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said after negotiators promised to give the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., another chance to address the issue in the bill.

Bond had inserted the measure into a funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Feinstein was unable to knock it out in the Senate.

It would have precluded California and other states from regulating engines under 50 horsepower by placing that authority exclusively with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Howard Gantman, a spokesman for Feinstein, said the senator had reached out to new California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Gov. George Pataki and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, all Republicans, for help on the issue.

Schwarzenegger sided with Feinstein, and his office called upon House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., said a senior congressional aide. The aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dreier spoke with Bond about the issue Wednesday afternoon.

Bond’s measure would have marked only the second congressional action since 1975 to pre-empt California’s unique authority under the Clean Air Act to set tougher pollution standards than the federal government.

The small engines that are in lawn mowers, forklifts, chain saws and other machines create a large amount of smog, according to California air regulators. The state’s Air Resources Board recently adopted regulations to force a 35 percent reduction in emissions from small engines.

Bond argued during a Senate debate that such regulations could drive as many as 22,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, including employees at production facilities of Briggs & Stratton Corp. in his state.

He also raised safety issues, saying catalytic converters that California’s regulations would require could cause spark fires. He said he planned to offer a new amendment calling for EPA to review the safety implications of the California rules.

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