OAK PARK, Ill. – In a “Dealer Alert” message distributed this morning, the Marine Retailers Association of America released the text of a letter it has sent to all members of Congress regarding CAFÉ standards.
MRAA said it is making every attempt to keep Congress informed about the concerns of marine retailers and asked its members to contact their representatives immediately, as the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on CAFE after the Labor Day weekend.
“This is a very important issue,” MRAA wrote in its Alert. “The Senate has already passed a CAFE bill, which would eliminate virtually all the pick up trucks and SUV hauling abilities making it impossible for a new vehicle to safely tow a boat in a couple of years. The House is considering two bills to significantly increase CAFE. MRAA does not support either bill, because both bills would cause significant financial harm to boat dealerships and boat manufacturers. The time to act is now. We have heard that if the Senate language passes the House (Speaker Nancy Pelosi prefers this language), the average cost of a new pick up or SUV will go up $8,000.00 to $10,000.00. Coupled with the Congressional intent to lower the CO2 standards, which will cost another $3,000.00 per vehicle, the sticker shock will cause the average American to be clearly out of boating. MRAA strongly believes this action will have a drastic impact on boat sales.”
MRAA included instructions for contacting representatives. They direct people to go to: www.house.gov/writerep/ and enter their state and zip code, with the 4-digit suffix, to locate their representative and click “Send a Message.” People will then be directed to their representative’s Web site and asked to enter the zip code again. They then need to enter their contact info once again.
MRAA asks people to use its letter as a guide but says they should feel free to add their own thoughts in the message and describe their business.
The text of the letter is:
Dear Member of Congress:
We understand Congress may begin debate on proposed increases to CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for automobiles, light trucks and SUVs shortly. Members of the Marine Retailers Association of America have long strongly supported a clean water and air environment to enhance the boating and fishing experience, but are seriously concerned about the potential effects of significant increases to CAFE on recreation, especially boating, fishing and camping.
Today about 80% of the boats sold are less than 26 feet and are towed to nearby lakes and rivers where families enjoy recreation in and on the water. The Coast Guard estimates about 75 million Americans enjoy boating as the primary form of family recreation and many more also like to fish from their boat. The only vehicles available to tow these boats are light trucks and SUVs.
We are very concerned that an increase in CAFE to the levels already passed in the Senate and being considered in the House will result in many unfortunate consequences not only to the nation’s economy and the auto industry, but specifically to our industry as auto manufacturers downsize weight, torque and horsepower to meet the new standards. We expect the price of SUVs and light trucks to go up by around $8,000.00 per vehicle putting them beyond the financial reach of many middle class Americans. In addition, without vehicles to safely tow boats, we foresee significant increases in business closings of marine businesses and unemployment that will far exceed the onerous effects of the luxury tax on boats passed by Congress in the early 1990s.
As you consider efforts to increase CAFE, we ask you to remember our concerns and support efforts to establish performance differences and towing capabilities in light trucks. This is a complex issue that has many ramifications that go far beyond an important interest to curb global warming. Our nation’s financial future may also be at risk. Remember relatively small increases in CAFE in the past have removed the safe towing capacity of 99% of today’s passenger cars.
Light trucks and SUVs are all we have left to provide safe family transportation and towing ability to preserve recreational boating.
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