Calif. Regs on Outboards and Jet Skis
DAVIS JONES (JONES.DAVIS@epamail.epa.gov)
Mon Jul 06 09:02:57 1998
I thought this article might be of interest to the list. While this may only immediately effect Ships in
California, many of us are the cause of some of the supporting statistics, especially those of us with
old outboards. In brief, 1 jet ski or outboard motor produces as much to air pollution as 50 cars!
Ship 1942, Arlington, VA
Jet Skis Face More Restrictions;
The San Francisco Chronicle
JULY 3, 1998
Strict exhaust limits urged for outboards
BYLINE: Susan Sward, Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writers
The state Air Resources Board's staff is proposing the nation's toughest regulations on emissions for
California's hundreds of thousands of jet skis and outboard motors.
The staff made its suggestions in a report after examining alarming data on the amount of
pollutants that jet skis and two-cycle outboard motors release into the air. "We have been pushing
automakers to make cleaner cars for the last 30 years, and automakers are now making cars that
are more than 90 percent cleaner than new cars were in the 1970s," said air board spokesman Allan
Hirsch. "We have not asked the same from the boating industry until now.
The Air Resources Board staff's proposed regulations would have the goal of reducing
hydrocarbon emissions from outboard and jet skis engines 75 percent by the year 2025. The
regulations would affect new models starting in 2001 and would result in "the need to convert more
of their product line to cleaner technologies."
Environmental groups hailed the proposed standard as a major step toward tackling one of the
nation's leading sources of pollution. "The real benefit of this proposed regulation on a national basis
is that it sends a signal to boaters everywhere that these motors are environmentally unacceptable,"
said Russell Long of the Earth Island Institute's Bluewater Network.
"The signal comes from a credible state agency," Long said. "In that respect, it will affect sales of
motors throughout the country since boaters tend to be environmentally conscious and don't want
motors that are proven polluters."
Roger Hagie, spokesman for Kawasaki Motors, one of the nation's top jet ski manufacturers,
said in an interview that he believes that the air board staff numbers "were floated . . . to get some
reactions, but as far as I know there is no proposal."
"I don't think they know exactly where they are going to go and under what time frame they plan
to get there," Hagie added.
But the air board's Hirsch said the proposed standard does flow from a real concern. He said:
"Obviously, it doesn't make sense for us to try to squeeze ever-greater emission reductions from
cars unless we also ask the boating industry to meet some reasonable standards as well."
There are 161,000 personal watercraft -- commonly known as "jet skis" after a popular model --
and about 346,000 outboard boat engines in California.
In a draft proposal dated June 8, the board staff noted that last year the amount of hydrocarbons
and oxides of nitrogen released by jet skis and outboard motors totaled 312 tons per day. That is
almost one-quarter of the 1,374 tons released per day by the state's 25 million passenger cars.
Another stunning comparison noted by the air board staff was that exhaust emissions from two
hours of a jet ski's operation is "equivalent to the emissions from a 1998 passenger car" operated for
about 130,000 miles.
The board's report also cited concerns over California's long-range need to meet federal air
quality standards and mentioned "concerns over the discharge of unburned fuel into lakes reservoirs
It is this last water-quality concern that has helped make emissions by jet skis and two-cycle
outboard motors a heated controversy pitting environmentalists against the nation's multibillion-dollar
At Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency last summer adopted a June 1999 ban on
two-cycle engines, which propel most outboard motorboats and jet skis. The boating industry has
filed suit against that ban.
The air board's proposed regulations will be the subject of an workshop Thursday in El Monte.
The board is not scheduled to consider the issue until December.
The suggested regulations were announced last month in a mailing to boating manufacturers and
trade associations, Hirsch said.
He added it is too early to say whether the proposed emission standards would have the effect of
banning certain engine types. But he said, "There have been a lot of new engine technologies
developed in recent years, and industry typically has shown they can develop many engine types that
can meet our standards."
Hirsch said the proposed standards will be considerably stricter than those adopted by the
Environmental Protection Agency for phase-in through the year 2006.
Under the nation's Clean Air Act, California is the only state with authority to set emission
standards for cars, trucks and other mobile sources including watercraft. "The way it normally
works is other states either adopt California's standards or the EPA standards," Hirsch said.
"Because of that, it is not unusual for there to be a lot of national interest in California."