RBOC Joins BoatUS in Urging Recreational Boaters to Send Message to EPA to Stop Summertime Sale of E15 Fuel

BoatUS: “E15 is the wrong fuel for boaters, consumers and the environment”

SPRINGFIELD, Va., April 16, 2019 – In an action that many are seeing as anti-environment, anti-consumer and a big nod to the ethanol lobby, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving toward permitting the sale of E15 (15% ethanol) fuels during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). Currently available only in the colder months, E15’s summertime ban was implemented years ago to address concerns over its contribution to ground level ozone (smog) on hot days.

The nation’s largest boating advocacy, services, and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), wants EPA to immediately halt any expansion of the fuel’s availability and is asking recreational boaters to speak up now to stop the summertime sale of E15 and offers an easy way contact the EPA by going to http://bit.ly/2UyyMFV.

Boaters have no love for ethanol in their gas because its proven to damage boat engines and fuel systems. If they had their choice of fuel, more than four out of five boat owners (83%) would choose E0 (ethanol-free) fuel – if it was available. Because of the harm it causes, E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines and voids many marine engine warranties.

BoatUS has long had concerns over potential consumer misfueling with E15. Most recreational boaters refuel their vessels at roadside gas stations where pump-labeling requirements are minimal. Just one small E15 orange warning label is the only protection currently in place for marine and other off-road engines. Without additional consumer education to raise awareness that there may be more E15 fuel on market, BoatUS believes the risk of misfueling will increase and, with it, instances of expensive repairs to boat engines and fuel systems.

“E15 is the wrong fuel for the boaters, consumers and the environment,” said BoatUS manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “As recently as 2011, EPA determined it did not have authority to waive Reid Vapor Pressure rules for E15 fuel. We believe this was the correct decision and that any changes should be made by Congress, not the EPA.”

The push for the summertime sale of E15 and adding more ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply is a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). When it was passed in 2005, RFS assumed that America’s use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since then, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecast, which now 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 exceeds consumption and infrastructure constraints, in 2010 EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 into the marketplace but limited its sales to colder months to protect air quality.

BoatUS is a member of Smarter Fuel Future, a coalition that aims to reform RFS.

RBOC President Ray Durazo and Half Moon Bay Yacht Club Urge Support of Coast Guard & BoatUS Efforts

As reported in Soundings Trade Only Today, RBOC President Ray Durazo speaks as a member of Half Moon Bay Yacht Club in support of BoatUS advocacy efforts on bipartisan legislation that would restore pay to more than 40,000 active duty Coast Guard service members during the government shutdown..

RBOC urges boaters to take action as requested by BoatUS:

“While the current debate over funding of the Department of Homeland Security is primarily about issues not directly related to the U.S. Coast Guard, BoatU.S. is concerned over the potential deterioration of its ability to fulfill its wide range of missions including search and rescue, boating safety regulation and support for aids-to-navigation.

“Ask your members of Congress to support S. 21 and H.R. 367 that will ensure that U.S. Coast Guard personnel will receive compensation notwithstanding the final passage of the DHS 2019 appropriation legislation. This will allow USCG members to focus on their missions and help ensure the safety of recreational boaters.”

To take action, go to the BoatUS website: click here

For the complete Soundings article: click here

BoatUS Gathers Group of Advisers for Annual Debate on Boating Issues

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Dec. 3, 2018 — A panel of distinguished boating leaders who serve as a sounding board for Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) gathered last week along with esteemed guests and BoatUS staff in Newport Beach to discuss key issues impacting recreational boating, including the changing boat-ownership model and shifting boater demographics. BoatUS is the nation’s largest recreational boat owners group in the U.S. with more than a half-million dues-paying members.

The group also discussed legislative issues that help keep the association’s focus on the evolving needs of recreational boaters, including some who now get on the water without having to own a boat via boat-sharing clubs. The National Marine Manufacturers Association, U.S. Power Squadrons, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary all provided updates on activities.

The volunteer members of the BoatUS National Advisory Council included Robert Baldridge, past chief commander, United States Power Squadrons; Ellen Bradley, senior vice president & chief communications officer, National Marine Manufacturers Association; Lenora S. Clark, former California Boating and Waterways commissioner and former Recreational Boaters of California president; Dean Travis Clarke, former executive editor, Bonnier Marine Group; Ray Durazo, incoming president, Recreational Boaters of California; Jim Ellis, National Advisory Council chairman and former president, BoatUS; John Flynn, principal, Squire Patton Boggs; Mark Brown, president, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators; and Bob Adriance, former editor, Seaworthy.

Joining the council’s members were a distinguished roster of special guests, including Beth Newburger Schwartz, president, Epoch Communications and wife of late BoatUS founder Richard Schwartz; Vern Gifford, chief, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety; and Jerry Desmond, principal, Desmond & Desmond and RBOC Legislative Counsel.

BoatUS leadership and staff included Kirk La, chief executive officer; Chris Edmonston, vice president, Government Affairs, and president, BoatUS Foundation; Heather Lougheed, vice president, Membership; David Kennedy, manager, Government Affairs; Morgan Neuhoff, senior program coordinator, Government Affairs;

Attending from BoatUS’s parent GEICO were Chris Nowack, counsel; and Steve Parsons, vice president, assistant controller.

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

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 - 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: 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 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.

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