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EPA, Marine Industry Associations and Maine DEP Announce Initiative for Cleaner Outboard Motorboat Engines

Release Date: 06/10/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617- 918-1014)

PORTLAND, MAINE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP), the Maine Marine Trades Association (MMTA), the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRRA) today announced a voluntary initiative to encourage the sale of low-polluting outboard motors and personal watercraft engines in Maine.

The "Get On Board" initiative, modeled after a successful program by the state of New Hampshire and being expanded this year by EPA to the rest of New England, is designed to accelerate the sale of low-pollution two-and four-stroke marine engines which emit substantially less pollution than conventional marine engines. The conventional engines discharge up to 30 percent of their fuel directly into the water and air as pollution.

Under the initiative announced today, all groups, including retailers who are members of MMTA, will work to achieve a goal of selling 75 percent clean engines this year in Maine, 80 percent in 2003, and 95 percent by 2004. EPA regulations require that by 2006, all manufacturers' average emissions for new outboard and personal watercraft engines meet low-pollution standards.

"With over 100,000 outboards and personal watercraft registered in Maine, these clean engines represent a great opportunity for boaters to take a big collective bite out of pollution entering Maine's waters," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

"This initiative is another exciting opportunity for the boating industry to prove its commitment to a clean environment," said Susan Swanton, executive director of the Maine Marine Trade Association. "We are looking forward to working again with EPA New England and Maine DEP to help promote the sale and use of new technology marine engines."

"We've done a great deal to clean up Maine waters through industrial controls," said Martha G. Kirkpatrick, commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. "This initiative showcases what we can accomplish through consumer choice. It presents the opportunity to keep pollution from fouling the waterways. It's great to have Maine retailers and their trade groups so involved in sending that message."

All parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding today at a ceremony at DiMillo's Marina in Portland. Under the agreement, participating retailers in Maine will encourage customers to buy low-polluting engines. MMTA and MRAA will encourage member retailers to participate and MMTA will collect yearly information from members on sales of low-polluting engines, providing state-wide totals to EPA and ME DEP.

NMMA will work with manufacturers to help ensure a supply of low-polluting engines. EPA New England will be publicizing the campaign, including creating brochures and signs for display at retail locations; recognizing participating retailers; and monitoring the success of the program. EPA announced a similar program this spring in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and last week in Connecticut and will be expanding the program in the coming weeks to Vermont.

Maine has over 100,000 registered personal watercraft and boats with outboard motors. Small marine gasoline engines can have a big impact on Maine waters. Traditional small boat engines are two-stroke carbureted, with up to 30 percent of the fuel passing through the combustion chamber unburned or partially burned, thereby being released directly into the water and air as pollution. This produces airborne hydrocarbon (HC) emissions which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone or smog. Gasoline discharged to the water elevates concentrations of benzene, MTBE and other toxics in lakes, ponds, and coastal waters.

Current low-pollution marine gasoline engines are either four-stroke or improved, fuel-injected two-stroke engines. Engines meeting EPA low-pollution requirements reduce air pollution by 75 percent or more, lower gasoline discharges to the water, improve fuel efficiency by 35-50 percent, and use up to 50 percent less oil. Other benefits include easier starting, better response, and less smoke and noise. While low-pollution engines cost more initially (15 percent more, typically), EPA estimates that the savings from lower fuel use will more than repay the difference over the life of the engine.

The program in Maine is modeled after a very successful program by the state of New Hampshire, which has three dozen participating dealers, all of which reached 2001's goal of selling 75 percent clean engines.