America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 Passes Senate - Boaters stand to gain with president’s signing

A timely update from our national boater advocacy partner BoatUS:

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 11, 2018 -- With passage yesterday of infrastructure legislation by the U.S. Senate, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill is on its way to the president’s desk. The nation’s advocacy group for recreational boaters, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), commends Congress for taking action to support this crucial infrastructure legislation that will improve the waterways for boaters.

BoatUS particularly notes the leadership of Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Peter DeFazio, ranking member, along with John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Tom Carper, ranking member, for their work on developing and passing the WRDA legislation.

“While not the most high profile of issues coming from Washington these days, the WRDA legislation is ‘must-pass’ legislation for America’s boaters” said David Kennedy, BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs. “Getting this bill done will make a difference for everyone who enjoys spending time on the water.”

The 2018 WRDA bill contains funding authorizations and policy changes for a wide range of water projects including funding of environmental-restoration programs and dredging of smaller harbors.

BoatUS: America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 Poised for Passage: Boaters Stand to Gain

Bill includes focus on water-quality improvements

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2018 – A safe place to hide from a storm. Better navigation. Cleaner waters. Ensuring that boaters matter when it comes to getting their fair share of federal funding. These are all things that boaters stand to gain with the passage of a bipartisan bill, S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, which will provide critical funds and policy improvements for the nation’s waterways, reservoirs, levees, locks and dams. A Senate vote is expected soon.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the nation’s advocate for boat owners, urges the Senate to say “yes” to the legislation, which also encompasses the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018. “The bill authorizes the needed investment in waterways where millions of Americans recreate,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy. “It also promotes policies to address water-quality concerns such as the harmful algal blooms recently seen in Florida and the Great Lakes.”

BoatUS says recreational boaters will like the bill as it supports waterway-access projects, navigation and water-quality improvements, and provides maintenance funds for harbors of refuge. It also includes innovative policy changes such as a provision directing the economic benefit of recreational boating be considered for locks on the Allegheny River system. As the primary federal legislation that addresses waterways, AWIA/WRDA serves to keep this crucial part of the nation’s infrastructure working for everyone.

“Regular passage of WRDA bills is good news for American boaters,” added Kennedy. “Keeping up with water-infrastructure maintenance and updating the laws that deal with our waterways will help keep boating one of our nation’s favorite recreational activities.”

For the bill’s full text, go to https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/s3021/BILLS-115s3021eah.pdf.

BoatU.S. Action Alert - Urge your Senators to support the Modern Fish Act, a law that is good for anglers and good for fish

Take Action 

September 17, 2018

Dear BoatU.S. Member:

An important positive change to federal laws involving saltwater fishing is moving through Congress and your senators need to hear from you today. The Modern Fish Act  will help improve public access to America's federal waters, promote conservation of natural marine resources, and spur economic growth by fixing key issues in the law governing marine fisheries. Please ask your senators to support this legislation that will help ensure fisheries management that works for recreational fishing.

The Modern Fish Act has passed the House and we are now counting on the Senate to vote on its companion bill S.1520. With only limited time on a busy legislative calendar the time to act on this legislation is now. Contact your senators today:  Take Action 

For the full text of the Modern Fish Act please visit our BoatUS Government Affairs Site.

To learn more on the topic:

Improving Fishing Regulations For Recreational Anglers - BoatU.S. Magazine June 2018

40 Years Of The Magnusen-Stevens Act - BoatU.S. Magazine June 2017

Thanks for being a BoatU.S. Member!

David B. Kennedy
BoatUS Government Affairs
GovtAffairs@BoatUS.com
703-461-2878 x8363
Advocacy.BoatUS.com

Boats and Ethanol Fuel: BoatUS Wants to Hear From You

Take a short 13-question survey

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 21, 2018 – With the start of the boating season, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) wants to hear from boaters about their experiences with ethanol fuels in an online survey at https://bit.ly/2JM4AS5. The short, 13-question survey is an effort to gain an understanding about how ethanol fuels are affecting recreational boating this summer, gauge opinion, and seek out comments related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

When it was passed in 2005, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since then, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecast, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate and avoid hitting a “blend wall” in which the volume of ethanol production would exceed consumption and infrastructure constraints, in 2010 the EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace. Recently, President Trump also proposed the sale of E15 year-round.

Only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats, and anything greater voids many marine engine warranties. However, 92 percent of readers of Boating Industry magazine that serves the boating trades reported in 2017 that they have seen damage caused by ethanol, which also decreases fuel economy, thus increasing fuel cost, and has questionable environmental benefits. BoatUS also has concerns over potential consumer misfueling as E15 pump labeling requirements are minimal with just a small orange warning label.

BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition which aims to reform the broken RFS. For more information, go to www.SmarterFuelFuture.org.

BoatUS: Congress Recognizes Importance of Outdoor Industry with Move to Continue Funding for Economic Impact Survey

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 20, 2018 – In government, data counts. If you can’t measure it, your chances of getting legislative support are nil. That’s why Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) applauds recent congressional action to authorize $1.5 million in funding to continue to measure the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry in the coming fiscal year.

“Without this data, the outdoor recreation industry which includes recreational boating, won’t get the legislative support it deserves as a powerful economic engine. For recreational boaters, this can help support funding for critical recreational boating access to waterways such as constructing and maintaining launch ramps, improving navigation aids and fishing habitats, and backing other measures important to boating,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “We thank the Senate Appropriations Committee for including funding for the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account in its fiscal year 2019 markup.” The committee’s action paves the way for action at the full committee level. 

In February of this year, for the first-time ever, BEA completed a study that found the outdoor recreation industry’s 2016 annual gross output was 2 percent ($373.7 billion) of the U.S. gross domestic product. Boating and fishing activities totaled $38.2 billion, an increase of 4 percent over 2015. The BEA report also noted that the outdoor recreation industry, which includes boating, fishing, RVing, hunting, camping, hiking, bicycling and supporting activities, surpassed the U.S. agriculture and petroleum industries.

Also applauding the Senate Appropriations Committee’s effort was the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations including BoatUS that work to promote the policy and legislative reforms needed to grow the outdoor recreation economy. 

BoatUS: 3 Easy, No-Cost Ways to Be Safer on the Water

National Safe Boating Week is May 19–25

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 14, 2018 – With the start of boating season and next week’s National Safe Boating Week, May 19–25, the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has three tips to get boaters thinking about safety aboard any type of boat.

1. Open up your boat for a vessel safety check: You may think getting a vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons can open yourself to problems. However, a no-risk, free vessel safety check does the opposite. It points out both the required and recommended items to have aboard, such as fire extinguishers, life jackets, distress signals, first-aid kits, and engine spark arrestors, and also helps provide a better understanding on the care and use of this critical equipment. Checks are done as a courtesy with no risk to the boater, so you won’t be in trouble if discrepancies are found. Go to https://bit.ly/1syhbDA to request a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary safety check or https://bit.ly/2I2uc8w for a U.S. Power Squadrons safety check.

2. Believe the numbers – take a safety course: Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety show that only 13 percent of all boating deaths in 2016 occurred on vessels where the operator had taken a nationally approved boating safety education course. So take this number to heart – taking a boating safety course improves safety. The BoatUS Foundation offers free online boating safety courses that meet the education requirements in 36 states and also may earn you a boat insurance discount. Go to BoatUS.org/Free.

3. Give a safety talk before you head out: Taking out guests is half the fun of boating, but before you head out give a little talk about how to stay safe aboard your boat. Some important things to include may be how to distribute weight in a small boat, how to hold on when crossing a wake, how a tuber or water skier should safely reboard after being towed, how the VHF radio works and the location of important safety equipment. Also, give everyone a life jacket to wear or keep in his or her immediate vicinity. If you don’t have a right-sized life jacket for a youngster, borrow one for free at more than 550 locations nationwide from the BoatUS Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program at BoatUS.org/Life-Jacket-Loaner.

 The BoatUS Foundation recommends getting a free vessel safety check to start the boating season right. (Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard)

The BoatUS Foundation recommends getting a free vessel safety check to start the boating season right. (Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard)

BoatUS - Where Big Ethanol is King, Many Prefer Ethanol-Free Gas

Report: More ethanol-free fuel sold in Iowa than E15 and all flex fuels combined

DES MOINES, Iowa, May 3, 2018 – Even in Iowa, it appears many Hawkeye State residents aren’t fond of ethanol fuels mandated by the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

A report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that ethanol-free gas (E0) is a more popular fuel choice than E15 (15 percent ethanol) and all flex fuels (E20, E85) combined, with Iowans purchasing more than 200 million gallons of E0 fuel in 2016.

That’s more fuel that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects the entire US will be able to use in the near future while still satisfying growing annual biofuel obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The nation’s largest boating advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), says citizens of the number-one ethanol-producing state in the nation choosing ethanol-free fuel for their own personal vehicles and equipment is another example of the need for RFS reform. “This is the part of the country where Big Ethanol interests dominate, but right in their backyard the citizens of Iowa have spoken with their pocketbooks and wallets,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “They know what ethanol can do to their vehicles, power equipment and boats. We support every effort to recognize an Iowan’s right to choose safe ethanol-free fuels. It’s time to fix the RFS.”

When it was passed in 2005, the RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since then, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecast, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate and avoid hitting a “blend wall” in which the volume of ethanol production would exceed consumption and infrastructure constraints, in 2010 EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace. Most recently on April 12, President Trump also proposed the sale of E15 year-round that would require a waiver to the Clean Air Act.

Only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats, and anything greater voids many marine engine warranties. However, 92 percent of readers of a prominent boating industry publication reported in 2017 that they have seen damage caused by ethanol, which also decreases fuel economy, thus increasing fuel cost, and has questionable environmental benefits. BoatUS also has concerns over potential consumer misfueling as E15 pump labeling requirements are minimal – just a small orange warning label.

BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition. For more information, go to https://bit.ly/2I56Joa.

 Iowans purchased more than 200 million gallons of ethanol-free fuel in 2016.

Iowans purchased more than 200 million gallons of ethanol-free fuel in 2016.

BoatUS Update: US Interior Secretary Zinke Addresses Sport Fishing & Boating Partnership Council Meeting

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2018 – U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council at its recent meeting held April 4 and 5 at the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.

The secretary emphasized the importance of outdoor recreation, specifically as it relates to boating, and included a message directed squarely at America’s nearly 12 million registered boat owners: “Boats are good. A lot of boats are better,” said Zinke, as he discussed his priorities to update and modernize visitor facilities on federal lands and “Bring them into the 21st century” to improve the visitor experience. The secretary also discussed his support for increasing recreational boating access on federal lands, and addressing maintenance backlogs that have plagued the agency for decades.

Council members attending the meeting included Chris Edmonston, BoatUS; Linda Friar, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S.; David Hoskins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Ron Regan, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Fred Harris, American Fisheries Society; Alvin Taylor, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Barb Gigar, Aquatic Resources Education Association; Scott Kovarovic, Izaak Walton League of America; Janine Belleque, Oregon State Marine Board; John Sprague, Marine Industries Association of Florida; John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; Betty Huskins, Southeast Tourism Policy Council; Eugene “Mac” McKeever, L.L. Bean; Douglass Boyd, Coastal Conservation Association; Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association; Greg Sheehan, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

BoatUS has sat on the council for several secretaries and administrations, and it is encouraging to see how well Secretary Zinke understands the importance of outdoor recreation, and that expanding recreational opportunities improves the conservation of our resources,” said Edmonston, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs. “The Secretary also noted that he looked to the council for help, saying ‘I need really good advice.’” Topics for the meeting included discussions regarding the backlog of maintenance at fish hatcheries and parks, permitting issues and improving access to interior lands and waters.

The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council is funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. Its purpose is to advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, on aquatic conservation endeavors that benefit recreational fishery resources and recreational boating, and to encourage partnerships among industry, the public, and government.

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BoatUS: Tax Provisions for Boats Extended

Have a boat loan? Ask your lender for form 1098

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2018 – Just two short years ago, Congress extended some boat sales tax and mortgage interest deductions for recreational boat buyers. Excluding home equity loans, those deductions remain for next year’s 2018 tax season with the recently passed GOP tax overhaul plan signed into law on December 22, 2017, albeit with some new lower limits on lending amounts, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

Before passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, BoatUS, the nation’s boating advocacy, services and safety group, had concerns that boat owners would be singled out for negative tax treatment. However, recreational vessels with a sleeping berth, cooking and toilet facilities will be treated equally with second homes and recreational vehicles that may qualify for some sales tax and mortgage interest deductions when filing (in 2019) a 2018 federal income tax return.

The new Tax Cut and Jobs Act reduces the previous $1 million second-home mortgage deduction limit to $750,000. “Most new boats sell for far below this new cap, so we don’t think that will have much impact on the average boat buyer,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. However, what could affect buyers of smaller vessels is the act’s removal of the deductibility on interest for a home equity loan. Historically, borrowers could deduct home equity interest on loans up to $100,000 ($50,000 for married couples filing separately). “With the new tax law, that deduction is gone,” said Kennedy.

For the current 2017 tax season, the existing deduction remains in place and is offered to new owners who paid substantial state sales taxes on a new or used boat purchased in 2017. If there is a loan taken, mortgage interest paid on the loan may also be deducted from federal income taxes. Again, the vessel must have a sleeping berth, cooking and toilet facilities to qualify. Here are the details:

2017 Sales Tax Deduction

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 continues to offer a federal tax deduction for state sales taxes paid on a recreational vessel. Boaters must choose either the state sales tax deduction or state income tax deduction on their federal tax return — they cannot take both. In addition, to take the state sales tax deduction, the sales tax on a boat purchase must be applied at the same tax rate as the state’s general sales tax. In order to claim the sales tax deduction, tax returns must be itemized. State sales taxes are entered on IRS form Schedule A, line 5b.

2017 Boat Loan Deduction

A boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, an installed head and sleeping berth. For those owners with a secured boat loan, mortgage interest paid on the loan may be deducted from federal income taxes. Taxpayers may use the home mortgage interest deduction for one second home in addition to their primary home, and must itemize deductions on their returns.

Some boaters may be unaware of this potential tax benefit because not all lending institutions send borrowers an IRS Form 1098, which reports interest paid. Not receiving the form does not preclude taking the deduction. If a 1098 is not available, boaters should contact their lender for the amount of interest paid and should enter it on line 11 on Schedule A along with the lender’s tax ID number. If a form 1098 is sent, boaters should simply enter the amount on line 10 of Schedule A.

For more details on the mortgage deduction on boats that qualify, go to IRS.gov and download IRS Publication 936.

Looking to 2018

The new limits on deductibility of mortgage interest and state sales taxes will kick in when boat owners calculate their 2018 tax liabilities along with changes to home equity loan deductions. Boaters are urged to contact a tax preparer or financial adviser for more information.

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BoatUS Speaks for Boaters at 'State of the Industry' Capitol Hill Briefings

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2018 – Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) in partnership with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) went to Capitol Hill yesterday to address Congressional Boating Caucus members and invited legislative staff for the annual State of the Industry briefings at the Russell Senate and Rayburn House office buildings. The caucus is an informal bipartisan group of US senators and representatives formed in 1989 to advocate for the interests of the recreational boating industry.

Speaking to the groups gathered, NMMA President Thomas J. Dammrich reported on the recreational boating industry’s financial rebound, or “long road back,” said Dammrich, since the Great Recession. With the economy doing well, sales are up and reports from winter boat shows are positive. He also shared ideas on what Congress can do to support this important sector of US manufacturing.

MRAA President Matt Gruhn spoke to the shortage of qualified marine service workers, and the need for elected leaders to continue to broaden their thinking about what education means in America. “We need more support for apprenticeship and other technical trade programs, and encourage more people to make recreational boating their career,” said Gruhn.

As the boat owner’s advocate, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston spoke about the need for legislator support for recreational boating access, and specifically, the Water Resources Development Act which helps maintain the navigability of waterways by providing funds for dredging.

Edmonston also spoke to the success of boating safety education in reducing accidents and fatalities, and the need to revamp US Coast Guard licensing to better address the needs of recreational boaters. “The current licensing system was never intended for recreational boaters,” said Edmonston.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):

Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program gives boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.

BoatUS Skewers Latest "Big Ethanol" Effort to Support Government Ethanol Mandate

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 16, 2017 –“Big Ethanol” is at it again. In a new advertising campaign timed with the start of boating season, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the leading trade association for America’s ethanol industry, continues to spread mistruths in its support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a 2005 law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. The nation’s largest recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) clarifies the ad campaign’s spin with hard truths.

SPIN: “E10 is the fuel of choice for many boaters because of its high performance and lower emissions.”

HARD TRUTH: E10 is simply the most common fuel sold in America today, but it is not recreational boaters’ preferred choice of fuel. According to those surveyed by BoatUS, 91 percent prefer non-ethanol fuel for their boats. Unfortunately, non-ethanol gas is facing more uncertainty as the government mandate to increase the volume of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply may actually reduce the availability of ethanol-free gas. While ethanol boosts a fuel’s octane rating, the US Department of Energy acknowledges that ethanol contains less energy than gasoline and “result(s) in lower fuel economy.”

SPIN: E10 is the “preferred choice by professionals” with supporting quotes by the National Boat Racing Association and Crappie Masters.

HARD TRUTH: Both organizations are sponsored by the RFA.

SPIN: “Tip #1: Ensure a tight seal, if water is found, dry the tank before refueling.”

HARD TRUTH: This impractical and potentially very unsafe “tip” asks boaters with built-in fuel tanks to do the impossible. Removing and disposing of phase-separated fuel – a result of too much water in moisture-attracting ethanol fuels – can only be done safely by professionals and is expensive. Even for those with portable fuel tanks, this RFA spin offers no practical, reality-based solution to the challenging disposal issue of the ethanol-and-water soaked gas.

SPIN: “Regular maintenance is key.”

HARD TRUTH: It certainly is when it comes to ethanol! A 2016 survey by Boating Industry magazine points to ethanol as playing an even “bigger role” in boat service issues than it was the year prior, with 87 percent of survey respondents reporting seeing boat engine damage caused by ethanol. Said one boat manufacturer, “Ethanol is a boom for the service departments (and a) huge drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers. It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat and their entire boating experience.”

Go to BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition.

Boating, Angling Interests Ask Federal Government to Fix Renewable Fuel Standard Now

Boating and Fishing Groups Send Message to Trump Administration and Congress:

Now is Time to Fix Broken Ethanol Policy

26,000 Sign Petition for Ethanol Fuels Reform

WASHINGTON, DC, May 3, 2017 – In a letter sent today to the Trump administration and Congress, a coalition of recreational boating and sportfishing interests urged action to fix America’s broken ethanol policy. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) on behalf of the nation’s 12 million recreational boat owners, 46 million recreational anglers and 35,000 recreational boating businesses respectively expressed concern with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS is the 2005 law that mandates the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. When written, it was assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, US gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the law forces more corn ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline.

Boaters and anglers need access to safe and approved fuels. The letter said the RFS “…has discriminatorily affected the boating public – groups of boaters and anglers who purchase fuel for their boats… We write to ask that you to set a new course for the RFS – one that takes into account the objective concerns expressed by the boating community.”

Because of its ability to damage boat engines, federal law prohibits the use of gas blends greater than E10 (10 percent ethanol) in recreational boats. However, as the RFS forces E15 (15 percent ethanol) and higher blends into the market, the chance of misfueling increases. A 2016 Harris Poll found that 64 percent of consumers were not sure or did not pay attention to the type of gas they used. ASA, BoatUS, NMMA and MRAA believe that the increased volumes of E15 and other higher ethanol-blend fuels also reduce the availability of E10 and ethanol-free gas.

The letter asks for common sense reforms, such as ensuring that any future ethanol volumes do not exceed 9.7 percent of the nation’s total fuel supply; protecting true consumer choice at the pump by not artificially decreasing the supply of ethanol-free gasoline, and implementing new and more effective misfueling mitigation protections that will educate and protect all consumers.

Additionally, an appeal by the coalition of the four groups to the boating public and their members to petition for RFS reform with their local congressional representative and President Trump received over 26,000 responses from across the country.

To view the letter, go to BoatUS.com/gov

BoatUS Says Budget Proposal Raises Concerns for American Boaters

US Coast Guard faces 14% budget cut

WASHINGTON, DC, March 21, 2017 – After its first look at the Trump administration’s new budget blueprint released March 16, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says that boat owners should be aware of potential budget impacts that could affect boating safety, access and the health of our waterways.

“The administration’s budget proposal clearly reflects a different set of priorities over previous years,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “Proposed cuts to agencies such as the Departments of Commerce and Interior, Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency could lead to changes for many programs that matter to boating.”

Added Kennedy, “Considering boating’s $121.5 billion impact, we believe this would be short sighted and negatively affect the boating experience for our nation’s 12 million boat owners.”

Kennedy notes that under budget proposal’s shifting priorities, US Coast Guard funding could be slashed 14 percent to just $7.8 billion, while the service’s “parent,” the Department of Homeland Security, is increased. “As the budget process continues, boaters may need to communicate with their members of Congress regarding programs that fund clean-water efforts, clean marina programs, navigation improvements, regional waterway restoration such as the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Puget Sound, and boating safety programs. We are keeping a close watch.”

BoatUS will continue to monitor the budget process, ensure that the recreational boater’s voice is heard and advise its more than half-million members of boating-related budget items.

RBOC Urges USEPA to Revise, Improve Draft Copper Document Prior to Adoption

RBOC has submmitted formal comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA’s) regarding its Draft Aquatic Life Ambient Estuarine/Marine Water Quality Criteria for Copper – 2016, noting a number of significant issues and settting forth recommendations to improve the important and precedent-settting document.

This issue is important to boating. From recreational boats in the water for a season to commercial ships that are in the water year round, antifouling paint on the underwater part of the boat is fundamental to the proper maintenance and performance of almost all watercraft. The uncontrolled growth of marine organisms on boats significantly degrades performance, increases fuel consumption, contributes to the spread of aquatic invasive species and can even lead to a vessel sinking in extreme cases.

Many antifouling paints contain cuprous oxide, a form of copper, as the licensed pesticide that is their primary active ingredient. These antifouling paints, approved by the USEPA, are designed for the copper to gradually leach into the water from the boat. Paints containing copper are currently the most effective, affordable and available antifouling products for all vessels, including recreational boats.

The USEPA has identified several California water bodies as impaired by copper [303(d) listed].

This has led Regional Water Quality Control Boards [RWQCBs] with authority over San Diego’s Shelter Island Yacht Basin and Los Angeles’s Marina del Rey to set Total Maximum Daily Loads [TMDLs] for copper. In order to meet the TMDLs, they have proposed to ban the use of copper antifouling paints on recreational boats. Newport Harbor is considering setting a copper TMDL as well, with the possibility of a copper antifouling paint ban being a likely outcome.

The USEPA has established a toxicity standard of dissolved copper in salt water of 3.1µg/L. Within this standard, however, is the acknowledgement that site-specific testing of water bodies should be performed to determine if local water chemistry or other factors mitigate the toxicity of copper. The USEPA currently recognizes only one test protocol for salt water, the Water Effects Ratio [WER], an extremely laborious and costly test. In fact, the WER test was conducted in San Francisco Bay and while copper levels in the area were three times greater than the 3.1µg/L standard, the results showed no toxic impacts on the marine environment. This led the USEPA to remove all of San Francisco Bay from the 303(d) list of impaired water bodies for copper.

Several of the current California watershed management TMDL plans assume that the major source of copper is from recreational boats and use copper antifouling paint bans as the proposed method to reduce the amount that enters the water in the basins. However, since dissolved copper rapidly binds with organic material most of its toxic effects are rendered inert. Use of the BLM would determine what actual level of copper must be reached in a particular water body before toxicity to benthic organisms occurs.

RBOC endorses and concurs with the comments of the Copper Development Association Inc. [CDA] and the International Copper Association, Ltd. [ICA]. 

RBOC has encouraged the USEPA toapprove the use of a saltwater Biotic Ligand Model [BLM] for copper. RBOC shares the concerns of the CDA and ICA regarding several of the approaches, assumptions, and data used in the derivation of the draft estuarine/marine criteria for copper, as well as the recommendations to improve this important and precedent-setting document. These include:

  • Because the BLM is highly sensitive to dissolved organic carbon (DOC), the USEPA should only use copper toxicity data from studies in which reliably-measured DOC concentrations were reported to derive the criteria.
  • Given the extraordinary richness of the copper toxicity database, the USEPA should not derive the criteria using generalized approaches that are more appropriate for data-poor substances.
  • USEPA should be consistent in its use of default/reference-water chemistries and base the values it selects on data that characterize the most likely environments in which the estuarine/marine criteria will be applied.
  • To assist the states in adopting its recommendations, USEPA should take full advantage of this opportunity to provide additional guidance on the implementation of the BLM-based approach.

RBOC joins with the CDA and ICA in urging the USEPA to fully consider these comments because they pose the potential to significantly increase confidence in the criteria, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of their widespread adoption. 

 

BoatU.S. Delivers 24,000 Comments Urging EPA to Stop Adding More Ethanol to Nation's Fuel Supply

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) President Margaret Podlich and Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy, delivered over 24,000 comments from recreational boaters to EPA Headquarters in Washington DC to ask the agency to stop adding more ethanol to the nation’s gasoline supply.

Thanks to the many California boaters that have taken action to contact the EPA.

For more information: click here

 

BoatUS Asks Boaters to Say "No" to More Ethanol in 2017

Deadline for Comments July 11

THE ISSUE:  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for comments on a proposal to increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply for 2017. If adopted, these proposed levels will require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher-level ethanol fuel blends (including E15 or 15% ethanol) into gas pumps and at more gas stations. Most marine engines are built to only work with up to 10% ethanol, and it is illegal to use gas containing more than 10% ethanol in any marine engine.

ACTION NEEDED NOW:  Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is urging all recreational boaters to send a message today urging the EPA to lower the ethanol mandates to ensure an adequate supply of fuel that will work with recreational boat engine and fuel systems. BoatUS offers a simple way to send comments by going to: click here. The deadline for public comments is July 11.

BACKGROUND:  The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is the 2005 law that requires the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. When written, it was assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to rise. However, US gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily since 2005 and now the law forces more ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline.

To keep up with this mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15% ethanol) into the marketplace, for some engines. E15 has been proven to damage boat engines and so it is prohibited in marine engines. It is also illegal to use E15 in snowmobiles, motorcycles, small engines like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, as well as any car or light-truck made before 2001.

E15 and higher ethanol fuel blends can now be found 23 states, often at the very same pumps as E10 gasoline. Those states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

A sticker on the pump mixed in with all the other labels may be the only warning for E15 gasoline. This creates a huge potential for mis-fueling and puts boaters at risk of using fuel that will damage their engines. About 40% of the over half a million BoatUS members report filling up the family boat at a gas station and another 35% use portable gas cans. BoatUS is also a member of the Smarter Fuel Future, and additional RFS information is at BoatUS.com/gov/RFS.asp.

BoatU.S. Urges Boaters to Contact EPA & Ask for Reduction in Ethanol Mandate

President's Corner - From BoatUS President, Margaret Podlich

In what has become another sign of spring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling for comments on the so-called "renewable volume obligations (RVOs)" for 2017. Why am I sharing this with you? These make up the Federal mandate dictating how much ethanol must be mixed into the nation's gas supply required by the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) law. While America's total fuel consumption has been on a long decline, (which is a wonderful accomplishment!) the amount of ethanol that must be blended into it continues to go up. This year the EPA has proposed to mandate 18.8 billion gallons of ethanol be used, making it even more likely you will see E15 (15% ethanol, prohibited to use in marine engines!) at the fuel pump and making it harder to find E0 (ethanol free) fuel if that is your preference.

We need your help! Click here to send a message to EPA, asking them to reduce the mandate for more and more ethanol. And click here to ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor legislation to reform the RFS law that is limiting our fuel options.

To learn more about the RFS and how BoatUS is working for boaters, visit BoatUS.com/Gov.

Have fun on the water this week!
Margaret

RBOC Supporting Inclusion of Liveaboards in Clean Vessel Act Services

RBOC has submitted formal comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urging USFWS to include live-aboards as recreational vessels for purposes of access to services funded by the Clean Vessel Act [CVA].

RBOC is concerned with the interpretation of the USFWS that recreational vessels used as live-aboards [anchor outs, and houseboats] are not considered recreational vessels by the federal government and are therefore not eligible for use of equipment or services funded by the CVA grant including vessel pump-outs, pump-out boats [mobile boat-to-boat services], pump-out services, or any equipment operated and maintained with CVA grants.

In California, the CVA program has funded construction of hundreds of vessel pump-outs, most of which are used by both pleasure vessels and live-aboards.

RBOC is concerned that the USFWS interpretation does not allow live-aboards to use the CVA funded equipment [vessel pump-outs] or allow CVA funded pump-out boats or services.  The exclusion of recreational vessels used as live-aboards could have a significantly negative impact on water quality and would be detrimental to the objectives of the CVA. 

The USFWS regulatory proceeding is Docket Number FWS–R9–WSR–2015–0006.

 

BoatU.S. Action Alert - Comment Now on EPA Ethanol Mandate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for comments on a proposal to increase the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply for 2015 and 2016.  

If adopted, these proposed levels will require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher-level fuel blends (including E15 or 15% ethanol) into more gas stations.

Remember that most marine engines are built to only work with up to 10% ethanol and it is prohibited to use gas containing more than 10% ethanol in all marine engines.

Please take a moment to send a message NOW urging the EPA to lower the ethanol mandates to ensure an adequate supply of fuel that will work in your boat.

Background:

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is the 2005 law that requires the blending of biofuels such as corn-ethanol into our gasoline. When written, it was assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to rise and therefore mandated escalating amounts of biofuels to be blended with our fuel. Since 2005, U.S. gasoline usage has actually dropped steadily and now the law forces more ethanol into fewer gallons of gasoline.

To keep up with this mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15% ethanol) into the marketplace, for some engines. E15 is prohibited from being used in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, small engines like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, as well as any vehicle made before 2001. In multiple studies, E15 has been proven to damage boat engines.

E15 and higher ethanol blends fuel can now be found in 24 states, often at the very same pumps as E10 gasoline. The only warning you may have is one sticker mixed in with all the other warning labels on the pump. This creates a huge potential for mis-fueling and puts boaters at risk of using fuel that will damage their engines. CLICK HERE for more information on E15 and the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Thanks for taking action to let EPA hear how you care about the ethanol level in the fuel you buy for your boat engine. Help us out and please FORWARD TO A FRIEND.

Sincerely,

Margaret B. Podlich

President, BoatU.S.

703-461-2878 x8363

www.BoatUS.com/gov 

BoatU.S. Urges Boaters to Ask Their U.S. Senators to Co-Sponsor Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015

From BoatUS President, Margaret Podlich

For years, BoatUS has been battling in Washington to make sure you can buy gasoline that works properly in your boat engine. And while we have long recognized that renewable fuels are a key part of America's energy mix, we continue to work to reform the government fuel mandate that forces higher levels of ethanol in gas; levels beyond 10%, which can void boat engine warranties.

Now we have a chance to fix this broken policy. After last month's request, over 10,000 BoatUS Members contacted their congressmen, requesting support for H.R. 704, "The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act of 2015." A HUGE thank you for taking action! With bi-partisan support from 46 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, this bill will effectively remove the government mandate for higher blends of corn-based ethanol fuels (E10 and up) and allow for investment in other, more compatible biofuels.

Today I am asking you for more help. Senators Diane Feinstein and Pat Toomey introduced S. 577, the "Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015" which also helps ensure that we will continue to have safe fuels for our marine engines. Please click here to ask your Senators to become co-sponsors and supporters of this bill.

Thanks!
Margaret