Proposed Watercraft Labeling

This page last reviewed March 11, 1999


Q:

Why did ARB require labels on personal watercraft and outboard engines sold in California starting in 2001?
   

A:

The main purpose of labels is to educate consumers. ARB wants consumers to be able to make informed choices concerning engine emissions when they are shopping for watercraft. Water agencies that worked with ARB in developing the watercraft regulations supported labels. The labels are an additional tool water agencies can use to reduce pollution in areas where water quality is a special concern.
   

Q:

Is labeling unique to watercraft?
   

A:

No. ARB has required labels on automobiles since the mid-1970s so consumers can be informed of emission levels when purchasing a new car.
   

Q:

Will ARB use engine labels to ban watercraft from some lakes and reservoirs?
   

A:

No. ARB is an air quality agency. It does not have authority to regulate boating at lakes, reservoirs, ocean marinas or other ocean areas. That authority rests entirely with water agencies or local government agencies. ARB's regulations do not restrict boating in any way at any location.
   

Q:

Haven't some of these local agencies already started banning watercraft?
   

A:

Some local agencies have had watercraft restrictions for many years. Many of these restrictions, however, stem from issues such as speed, noise, wildlife preserves, and protection of areas that are reserved for fishing, swimming, non-motorized craft or other special uses as well as pollution from gasoline-powered engines. Several agencies have restricted the use of motorized watercraft on specific waterways because of environmental concerns. However, those agencies began regulating watercraft before ARB's regulation was approved in December 1998. There is no indication at this time of efforts by water agencies or other regulatory agencies to ban or restrict boating on a widespread basis due to concerns about water contamination. A list of restricted areas can be found on the California Department of Boating and Waterways internet site at www.dbw.ca.gov. Click on the "Two-Stroke" button.
   

Q:

Why do we need labels at all since MTBE will be phased out in California by December 31, 2002?
   

A:

As stated above, the primary intent of labels is to provide consumer information. The labels also give individual water agencies a tool ó if needed ó for protecting the publicís water supply from all fuel components, including many fuel components that are more toxic than MTBE and will remain in gasoline after MTBE is gone.
   

Q:

Why does ARB say labels could preserve, rather than reduce, boating opportunities in California?
   

A:

The new boating regulation that took effect in June 1999 at Lake Tahoe is an example of how  labels can give a water agency an alternative to blanket boating bans or restrictions. Lake Tahoe authorities were considering a complete ban on all two-stroke engines because of water-quality concerns. However, the Lake Tahoe regulation, as finally enacted, will allow the use of engines with ARB labels. ARB expects that new direct-injection two-stroke engines will meet ARB requirements and will receive labels. Those engines would not have been allowed on Lake Tahoe under the earlier proposal that would have banned all two-stroke marine engines in that region.
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