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Marine engines
do not pollute

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Article by
Alfredo Gennaro


STOP THE GAME
AND SHOW US YOUR HAND!

For some time now we have maintained that recreational marine engines do not pollute, and that the environmental protection is only a sleight of hand on the part of widely diffuse interests to push for regulations inconsistent with stated EU aims. We were not believed: and it is, perhaps, the reason we were not listened to or supported.

But when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declares that leisure marine engines do not pollute and hence will not be submitted to regulation, we have to believe it, for at least the following five good reasons:

  1. the EPA is highly rigorous and independent: its pronouncements are believed to be independent of any particular interest groups involved;

  2. the number of leisure motor boats in the States (about 16 million) is the largest in the world;

  3. for a given boat, power installed in the States is generally higher than in Europe;

  4. American leisure crafts reach inland populated areas to a much greater extent than in Europe, via America's wealth of rivers, lakes and lagoons;

  5. the mild southern weather and local patterns of behavior generally lead to year-round use of boats, whilst European boat use is concentrated on average in 200 hours during the summer season.

Altough the EPA pronouncement was made with little publicity, environmental claims for the need for absurd and unreasonable European regulation, are no longer credible. It is time to stop the game and show us the hands in play around the table, time to reveal the true interests involved, whether or not they are above board.

It is, for example, very suspicious that certain interests continue to insist on the regulation of emission and noise levels by a set of absurd and unfeasably complex rules, at the cost of enormous effort and at taxpayer expense, resources which could better be directed to the development of leisure boating than to its detriment. And it is very suspect, too, that Europe is insisting on the regulation of leisure marine engines emissions at the same time as the USA exempt them from environmental regulation, with unquestionably good reasons. The timing is even more suspect given that it occurs immediately prior to an agreement between the US and the EU to ensure the reciprocal export, whithout modifications, of products approved in either area. If, in addition, we consider that the final draft of EU Directive 94/25 on recreational crafts would require that private crafts purchased outside the EU and brought in for private use conform to EU regulations, then everything appears to have been assembled according to some perverse plan, for undeclared purposes and interests.

With the difference that now the excuse of “environmental protection” has collapsed.

So stop the game and show us your hands!

It is time that we saw the cards of Mr Costas Andropoulos, responsible for leisure boating in the EU's DGIII Industry Commission, which ostensibly supports the industrial development of the member countries, but which in fact in this case is making every effort to stifle it. Pointless regulations and crazy interpretation of norms will seriously damage the outbord engine and Mediterranean boating, built as they are on economies which are small but rich in historical tradition and culture. A sector to be protected, not destroyed by trumped up environmental charges which do not even come within the remit of the Industry Commission, and are beyond the targets of the Environment Commission. The arrogantly rigorous Mr Andropoulos does not intend to let his plan to add engine regulations to the Directive get held up, and is deaf to any reasonable proposal. We want to know, now that environmental hand has beeen revealed to be a bluff, the exact nature of the interests he pushs or protects. But perhaps Mr Andropoulos bases his action on the ICOMIA proposals, which are supposed to protect the engine builders interests.

It is time that ICOMIA too showed us its cards.

What interests does ICOMIA support or protect? The power of big American and Japaneese engine supplier inside ICOMIA, together with Volvo Penta (which acquired American OMC holdings just prior to the EPA announcement) reveals much more about regulation proposals and of the potential interests operating behind them. And what is concealed behind the scandalous position of ICOMIA on idiotic and pointless regulation of noise which, if accepted, would extablish an actual monopoly of certain manufacturers, confirmed by a European Directive?

And it is time that UCINA also showed us its cards.

What steps did UCINA take to avoid the havoc menacing Italian boating, undifended within the EU and on the international scene by UCINA's unquantifiably conscious passivity in the face of powerful international lobbies? What steps did UCINA take to uncover and stand against the proposals beeing developed both within the EU and internationally, proposals which UCINA not only knew about, but in certain cases even supported? Profound political responsibilities in management may not be shrugged off by claiming that regulation is “inescapable”.

And last but not least our official EU representatives from the Italian Ministries of Industry and Transport. We cannot in all honesty ask them to show us their hands, because they were never in the game, but we can ask, or demand, that they use all the powers invested in them by virtue of their position. We can demand that they ignore the game unfolding around them, and to concentrate entirely on the cards in the hands of the players, because when the game is over, and all hands played out, they will be called to manage the house. The players will have left after having consumed all the food and drink, and in the harsh light of day, our representatives will be forced to face the damage. We will be forced to pay the costs.

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