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May 14, 2007 – PWC Report

May 14, 2007
Filed under Features

EPA Proposes Landmark Emissions Ruling
On April 17th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a proposal that, once finalized, promises to be what the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) deems the “largest regulatory action in the history of the recreational marine industry.”
The ruling, which targets the emissions of gas-powered marine engines, will impact boat builders, gasoline engine manufacturers and manufacturers of marine generators. It will only target newly manufactured products, and not be retroactive. The NMMA is encouraging members to submit their comments on the ruling to the EPA by Aug. 3.
At the heart of the proposal is the requirement that spark-ignited gasoline marine engines meet new emission standards beginning in 2009. In addition, boatbuilders will be required to reduce evaporative emissions from boat fuel systems. In effect, both outboard and PWC engines will now be required to meet the same stringent exhaust emission standards currently required by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for 2008. Presently, the CARB 2008 standards have only been applied in two states, California and New York. As to why the agency is targeting these engines, the EPA says they are significant sources of air pollution. The EPA has previously set standards for most nonroad engines, including farm and construction equipment, locomotives, commercial marine and recreational vehicles.
Under the new requirements, stern-drive and inboard engines will likely have to turn to catalyst-based systems to further clean emissions. Boat builders also will be forced to change existing fuel delivery systems, with new requirements for fuel hose materials, plastic fuel tanks and fuel tank venting methods.
“This is by far the most comprehensive rulemaking ever imposed on the recreational marine industry,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “It’s not just an engine rule. This proposal directly affects boat builders as well as engine manufacturers and will change the way builders design a boat’s fuel system. The entire industry needs to be aware of this ruling and prepare to meet all necessary requirements under the new EPA guidelines.”
While the proposal directly targets emissions, the end result might be the end of two-stroke engines, at least carbureted two-strokes.
Current carbureted two-strokes will not meet the new emissions standard, and as a result, will be illegal for sale in all 50 states, not just California and New York, where they are currently restricted by the CARB 2008 guidelines.
While the engine focus is likely to get the lion’s share of attention, the fuel delivery requirements can’t be overlooked. The ruling targets “evaporative emissions,” emissions that permeate through fuel hoses and tanks because of manufacturer’s choice of materials.
Once the new restrictions are fully implemented, the EPA states the standards will result in a 70 percent reduction in hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxides emissions, a 20 percent reduction in carbon monoxide from new engine’s exhaust and another 70 percent reduction in evaporative emissions.
A public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for June 5 in Reston, Va. Written comments to the EPA are due by Aug. 3. Copies of the ruling can be downloaded at www.epa.gov/otaq/marinesi.htm. psb

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