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Be a boating Activist!

For several years environmental activists have been pushing for higher CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and the auto, boating, RV and allied industries have been successfully pushing back! CAFÉ standards were first enacted in 1975 and revised upward in small increments several times. Today, another major change is close and trailer boating stands to take a big hit.

With politicians already racing to the 2008 elections, it appears gaining favor with the environmental lobby has become a high priority to members of Congress. Accordingly, they’ve jumped on the global warming bandwagon by looking at CAFÉ increases. Legislation - already passed by the Senate is now being considered in the House - would increase the CAFÉ from the current 27 mpg for cars and 22 mpg for light trucks to 35 mpg for both by 2020, a 40% increase!

Previous increases essentially eliminated the family car as a suitable and safe tow vehicle for boats, leaving only the light truck and SUV to do the job today. But if a new CAFÉ standard is set at 35 for all vehicles, trailer boating could come to an end as manufacturers continue to squeeze weight and size from vehicles to gain mpg. In fact, the SUV or light pickup could disappear altogether.

The result would be no suitable, safe vehicle would be on the market to tow the majority of boats in America. The boating industry would suffer a critical blow leading to dealer and manufacturing failures, lost jobs and increased costs for unemployment benefits (remindful of the industry-wide depression we experienced when Congress passed the luxury tax!)

The long term growth of boating depends on the ability of millions of American boaters to tow their craft to nearby waterways in a safe, suitable vehicle. The Marina Retailers Association of America (MRAA) has taken an industry leadership position in advocating an exemption for light trucks from the increase in CAFÉ. The effort needs your support as the House is expected to move on the CAFÉ proposals soon.

If you want to get in the fight, and for the future for so many dealerships that may depend on it, contact MRAA at and find out how you can be a boating activist. But do it now.



7 comments on “Be a boating Activist!

  1. Capt. John Page Williams

    Sorry, but I can’t go along with this stand. I’m a hard-core trailer boater, boating writer, book author, licensed captain, guide, AND environmentalist. My home waters, the Chesapeake Bay, suffer badly from nitrogen pollution, and a significant portion of the problem comes from vehicle exhaust.

    No, it’s not the only problem here, and yes, there are vigorous programs underway to stem the nitrogen from sewage treatment plants and agriculture. But with a rapidly growing population has come an even greater rise in vehicle miles traveled, which means more tailpipe oxides of nitrogen (NOx), to drop to roadways and wash overboard in rain.

    Ever notice how clean the air smells after a rain? That’s because it has just been “scrubbed.” Want to guess where everything in the air before the rain has gone? Yes, into storm drain pipes, then into streams, rivers, and coastal waters.

    At the high levels common today, nitrogen becomes a deadly pollutant in an estuary like the Chesapeake (and Puget Sound, and San Francisco Bay, and Galveston Bay, and Tampa Bay, and the Indian River, and the North Carolina Sounds, and Delaware Bay, and Long Island Sound, and Narragansett Bay). It is a poison that affects all boaters. It causes unsightly and harmful algae blooms that can kill fish and shellfish, disrupt ecosystems, and cause oxygen-depleted dead zones. That’s not rhetoric. I see those problems every day, in the water, with my eyes, on my skiff’s fishfinder, and with an oxygen meter.

    Like the marine engine manufacturers, who are giving us a wonderful new breed of outboards, gas inboards, and diesels, the auto makers can play a positive role in combatting these problems by giving us cleaner, more efficient vehicles to tow our boats, and they’ll gain great support from the boating community if they do. (I for one will toot their horn with gusto and conviction, as I do for the marine engine manufacturers) The technology may cost more, but if we don’t pay for it there, we’ll pay for it in degraded waterways.

    Over the next thirteen years, the automakers are going to have significant opportunities to reach that 35 mpg goal, with combinations of technologies that will include new diesels, batteries, hybrid plug-in systems, biofuels made from waste, and hydrogen. Shouldn’t we support them in that quest, which will also bring our country energy security, cleaner waterways, and maybe even lower cost for towing our boats to our favorite launch ramps? What’s not to like here?

    Best regards, John Page Williams
    (Also Senior Naturalist, Chesapeake Bay Foundation)

  2. David Sheriff

    What nonsense. Higher AVERAGE fuel economy does not mean sufficiently powerful vehicles will disappear. If boaters can pay for the fuel to push vessels through the water, they will pay the much more modest freight for pulling them on land. Fuel costs are going to rise. That’s the real threat to boating-as-we-know-it.

    The classification of very heavy passenger vehicles (SUVs) as “light trucks” has been a loophole in the CAFE standards all along. Let’s call things what they are. It might be a good thing if Soccer Mom gave up her “light truck.” Lets think, not reflex.

  3. Doug Reimel

    I am trying to compile some data. I am having some trouble contacting the right organizations to get the information. The Radicall Environmentalist probably already know. How many people are employed by the Marine business through manufacturing and retail. Then add in the RV industry, The Jet ski industry, the ATV industry, The Motorcycle industry, and any other industry who is dependant on there goods being towed by the consumer in the so called EVIL SUV or PICK-UP. I bet the number is astounding. Then translate that in to the jobs lost category for every 50 cent tax added to a gallon of gasoline. All towing dependant industries need to stand up together and let our voices be heard. Or our livelyhood will be determined by our politicians who only listen to people who have the time to complain about anything to give themselves something to do. Usually they don’t have to worry about an income because they live off a well established trust fund.

  4. Dennis Jay

    Sorry, Norm, but we heard the same doom and gloom when regulations called for the two-stroke engine to be retired. Our customers are in tune with the environment and we must be too. This is America. We have the ingenuity to build a fuel-efficient light truck with enough power to tow a boat. We just need to give the truck manufacturers an incentive to do so. Support the CAFE standards for the good of everyone.

  5. George Horwatt

    This is nothing more than government bureaucrats justifying their jobs to regulate everything into a socialist state. Government has no business regulating something that is market driven.

  6. Blaine Schwarzel

    Global warming…What a load of crap. It is all another way to screw us, the working men and women who work in the Marine field. I’m all for clean water, clean air but not at the cost of jobs. Our jobs. You say the water is more poluted that ever….Well here in southeastern Ohio we have more fish numbers than ever. If the rivers are poluted why is the fish count up? There must be turd in that punch bowl. Now I love the new DI and 4 stroke motors. But if we have to use a “mini truck” to get to the water, Kiss you big I/O and outboards goodbye! And then OUR JOBS……Get the point?

  7. Larry Innis

    Norm is clearly right on with his comments on CAFE. I have been working the CAFE issue in Washington, D.C. for 20-years on behalf of MRAA and also serve as the Chairman of the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners Association. Congress has now discovered global warming and is looking for an easy approach to do something. Increasing the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards for vehicles, including pick up trucks and SUVs, is the popular thing to do. Congress will pass something when it returns from the August recess, as early as next week. The problem is that if Congress passes either of the two CAFE bills now being considered the average price of a pick up truck and SUV will go up about $8,500.00. Congress is also considering a separate bill to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of vehicles, which will boost the average vehcile price an additional $1,500.00. To achieve an average 35 miles per gallon goal, the auto/truck manufacturers will also have to significantly downsize weight, torque, and horsepower reducing towing and hauling capacity. These design changes clearly threaten the existenace of towing boats and camping trailers as an option for the American family. I feel strongly significant increases to CAFE standards for pick up trucks and SUVs at the levels being dioscussed is a real threat to the future of recreational boating. Few vehicle models will be available to tow popular sized recreational boats and what is available is going to cost a lot more. I have been pushing an amendment to the Hill-Thomas CAFE bill to save the towing/hauling capability of, at least, the pick up truck, but it is a hard road in today’s Congress. I understand Congressman Markey may be interested in attaching an amendment to his CAFE bill to protect the hauling capacity of the pick up truck, but the auto insdustry doesn’t support his bill. Based on my conversations with lobbyists from the auto manufactuers, many models of the SUV, popular with today’s recreational boater to safely tow their boats will die shortly after passage. Other models will change, will look good, but will not be able to tow anything. In addition, the rumor in D.C. is that two of the three American auto manufacturers could file for bankruptcy because of pasage of a CAFE bill. I hate to think what would happen to boating.

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