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Soros-backed group unleashes behind-the-scenes war on gas-powered lawn equipment, trucks

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A secretive nonprofit with financial backing from liberal billionaire George Soros and linked to the Biden administration is calling for the federal government to resurrect a 1970s law to crack down on gas-powered lawn equipment.

Governing for Impact (GFI), founded in 2019 to help craft and guide implementation of federal regulations, quietly issued a memo late last month alongside the left-leaning Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revive the 1972 Noise Control Act. The memo argues that cracking down on loud equipment has “strategic ancillary benefits,” such as reducing carbon emissions. 

However, the Noise Control Act, a law that regulates “noise emissions,” has effectively been dormant since Congress defunded the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) in the early 1980s. The memo calls for the ONAC to be revived via existing or newly appropriated EPA funding to enforce the 1972 law and prohibit the sale of gas-powered equipment and vehicles.

“There’s no need to wait for Congress to act — because it already has,” Will Dobbs-Allsopp, GFI’s director of strategic initiatives and one of the memo’s co-authors, said after the memo was published, adding that the Noise Control Act could help address an “environmental injustice” that hits low-income and minority communities particularly hard.


A landscaper uses a gasoline-powered leaf blower. (Sarah Dussault/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

According to the memo, the Noise Control Act empowers the EPA to prohibit the sale of new commercial products that do not meet best-in-class noise reduction technology. As a result, a revitalized ONAC could prioritize regulatory actions targeting portable air compressors, gas-powered lawn equipment and diesel buses and trucks.

It added that prioritizing such regulations would likely also yield “impressive carbon emissions reductions given advances in electrification technologies.” GFI and CPR noted that electric battery-powered alternatives to traditional gas-powered equipment and vehicles are generally quieter.


“In the era of climate crisis, the [Noise Control Act] offers a powerful suite of regulatory authorities to help decarbonize certain difficult-to-abate sectors,” the memo states. “The NCA empowers (and sometimes obliges) the EPA to prohibit the sale of new products that cannot meet noise emission standards, established by taking into account the ‘best available technology.’

“Today, the most cost-effective quiet technologies are often electrified alternatives to products traditionally run on loud, internal combustion engines, which of course also emit carbon dioxide and other dangerous pollutants.”

President Biden and Michael Regan

President Biden, left, and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, right, are pictured. The memo calls for the EPA to resurrect a defunct office to oversee noise pollution rules. (Getty Images)

In an interview, James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst with CPR and another co-author on the memo, emphasized that the memo calls for EPA to leverage its existing authority granted by Congress. He added that the climate benefits of such a regulatory regime would be the “cherry on top.”

“Of course, they’re not going to set out and say, ‘We’re going to regulate leaf blowers because we want this as climate policy.’ That’s not what their statutory authority says. Nobody is asking EPA to do something it doesn’t have legal authority to do,” Goodwin told Fox News Digital.


He added that if the EPA, through the revitalized ONAC, enacts noise regulations, a manufacturer could theoretically make a very efficient and quiet piece of equipment that is still powered by gas. However, he said, due to the costs of such technology, manufacturers would likely make electric equipment.

“At the end of the day, manufacturers are going to say, ‘No, we’re just going to electrify this. It’s a lot cheaper and easier for everyone,’” Goodwin continued. “That’s basically how that would play out.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at the White House

The Department of Energy, under the leadership of Secretary Jennifer Granholm, has pursued an aggressive energy efficiency agenda targeting home appliances. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

The memo comes as the Biden administration and Democrat-led state governments nationwide continue to target gas-powered appliances and cars as part of their broader climate agenda. In 2023 alone, the Biden administration issued dozens of regulations taking aim at stoves, water heaters, furnaces and dozens of other home appliances in an effort to reduce emissions.

And state and local governments have recently started targeting gas-powered lawn equipment, using arguments similar to those outlined by the GFI-CPR memo. 

For example, Colorado state environmental regulators recently banned such equipment on state-owned property and opened the door to a broader ban. The regulation was influenced by the left-leaning Colorado Public Interest Research Group, which said Coloradans no longer have to worry about “obnoxious noise from gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers when they head to public parks.”


“It’s amazing how the D.C. elite crowd, their solution to seemingly every problem is to fight climate change or carbon emissions and then immediately pivot to banning products or limiting what people can buy, period,” O.H. Skinner, executive director of the Alliance For Consumers, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “These are people who seem dead set on just trying to wipe away stuff that everyday people use in countless ways, in countless places.

“These are things everyday people use all the time or rely on in extreme scenarios,” he continued. “And yet, just like stoves and just like refrigerators — just like damn near everything else people need or use to make their everyday lives possible — you have another dark money group trying to impose their progressive worldview by wiping these things off the shelves, all of which just makes people’s lives harder.”

Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado speaks on stage.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Jan. 5, 2019. His administration issued first-of-their-kind regulations targeting gas-powered lawn equipment this month. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Fox News Digital previously obtained internal GFI documents highlighting how the Biden administration has implemented more than 20 of its regulatory agenda items. The group, which prior to that report was invisible to online search engines, has produced legal policy memos for at least ten federal agencies and pitched multiple federal officials on its efforts as part of its “listening tour” in 2021.

GFI, though, is a project of the New Venture Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit incubator that acts as a so-called fiscal sponsor to groups by providing its tax status. The arrangement allows GFI and other nonprofits it sponsors to avoid filing tax documents to the IRS.


While the arrangement shields the identities of GFI’s donors from public view, separate filings show Soros’ network of nonprofits has dished out more than $17 million to the group since it was established in 2019.

“We applaud Governing for Impact’s efforts to protect everyday Americans,” an Open Society Foundations spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “We have supported different streams of their work in the past, and you can find it all publicly on our website.”

The EPA and GFI didn’t respond to requests for comment.


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