SCMA sponsors new engine emission legislation

ORANGE, Calif. – Without some legislative action before January 1, 2008, California marine dealers who sell new power boats will face a distinct price disadvantage in competing with dealers in adjacent states due to a new inboard/sterndrive engine emission standard adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Southern California Marine Association reported in a recent statement.

After pushing to clean up the two-stroke outboard industry in the 90s, CARB has been relentless in its pursuit of reducing HC+NOx emissions from recreational power boats with inboard/sterndrive gasoline engines, SCMA commented.

After nearly six years of meetings, public hearings, development and testing, next year all new boats with inboard or sterndrive engines under 500 horsepower sold in California must be standard equipped from the engine manufacturer with catalytic converters in order to meet the 5.0 g/KW-hr HC+NOx state emissions limit. In 2008, this will be a California-only regulation; none of the other 49 states will be burdened with this requirement, according to SCMA.

California dealers do not yet know how much more the catalyzed boats/engines will cost than identical models without catalytic converters sold in other states. Ballpark estimates range from $600 to $1,800 or more per boat to the California consumer depending on the specific engine model. The price differential and doubts about the performance level and safety of the converter are sure to have some California buyers considering out-of-state purchases come January 1, 2008, SCMA stated.

The CARB regulations impose limits on what engines the manufacturers may sell in California after January 1, 2007 although all but one engine manufacturer have opted to select CARB’s Option #2 plan, which doesn’t take affect until 2008. The regulations, however, do not prohibit a Californian from going outside of the state, buying a non-compliant boat, and bringing it into California and registering it with the Department of Motor Vehicles. CARB has advised the state marine trade associations that it does not have any remedy in mind for this problem, according to SCMA.

To try to level the competitive playing field for California dealers, Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D, Long Beach) has introduced AB 695, which would make it illegal to register a non-compliant inboard/sterndrive power boat in California after December 31, 2007, according to SCMA. The legislation, supported by the SCMA and other major marine trade groups, is patterned after similar laws governing the out-of-state purchases of automobiles. AB 695 would require manufacturers to provide certificates of compliance with all engines meeting the California standard so that buyers can legally register the boats. DMV’s registration procedure would have to be changed to insure compliance.

“The California dealers are not questioning the air quality standards proposed by CARB,” said Dave Geoffroy, SCMA executive director, “but the timing of CARB’s enforcement has created a serious competitive business handicap for our members. AB 695 actually would reinforce the intent of CARB’s standards by closing a loophole in those regulations.”

The SCMA reported that some sources believe by 2010, the federal standards probably will be raised in the remaining 49 states to the California level, but California dealers are seeking the protection of AB 695 until the federal standards are changed. SCMA is urging its members to contact their respective state legislators and seek their support for AB 695 in upcoming hearings and floor votes in Sacramento.

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