Nautica Digitale
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Marine engines
do not pollute

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Article by
Alfredo Gennaro


In last month's issue we challenged those who, directly or indirectly, are forcing crisis and eventually ruin upon European boating and its connected economies, to stop their game and show us their hands. We believe they are precipitating crisis in two ways:

  1. by employing unqualified technicians, or theoreticians out of contact with reality, to implement regulation which could have serious consequences for the equilibrium and future of EU economies, who simultaneously exploit the effective immunity provided by the fact that it is almost impossible for laymen to evaluate formulae, figures and measurements;

  2. by endeavoring, whilst refusing to listen to reason, to implement absurd proposals for regulation or to interpret nonsensically the existing norms, in such a way that the interpretation lacks any connection with internationally accepted logic. This could seriously damage boating since such action, exceeding the scope of the Directives, will eventually affect users.

We think a clearer explanation of these two points will aid a better understanding of the situation.

Let us consider the first point.

The recent crisis in the European Commission which, impeached for mismanagement and frivolity, was forced to resign en masse, is still under our noses: swindles, favouritisms, even the appointment of a Commissioner's dentist as an "expert" consultant on the problems of AIDS.

We think then that it is time for Costas Andropoulos, responsible for boating in the EÙs DGIII Industry Commission, to proceed with transparency and shed light on the facts, to reveal at last the identity of those "technicians" who established the gases and noise thresholds for recreational marine engines in the proposal contained in the Addendum to Directive 94/25. What qualification do they hold, and what experience do they have? On what criteria were they chosen, and with what legitimacy did they operate, ignoring recent regulation of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles? If they are librarians, or laboratory searchers, it is time to replace them with real experts who are aware of the difference between theory and day-to-day practice, between experiments in test-tubes and industrial processes. Because only a revision of the proposed thresholds and procedures, can prevent charges of incompetence or bad faith.

Let us now turn to the second point.

In the three dense pages of the Bulletin of the Federal Register n. 238, December 11th 1998, the EPA (the world's chief environmental authority) explains its decision not to submit the gaseous emissions of recreational diesel engines to regulation. The EPA did not even consider regulating noise. It is a perfect example of how to operate correctly, and a decision which also delivers the final blow to the environmental extremist's support of facile demagogy.

The Bulletin carefully analyses the use of marine engines and determines the differences between recreational and commercial use, and that the different technologies used in recreational boats tend to increase power density. The recreational boating industry would instead be forced to change boats and their technologies to meet the power density reductions induced by the regulation, at excessively elevated costs in comparison to the negligible contribution that regulation would make to the environment. For this reason, all recreational marine engines (and this category of engine alone) are not required to conform to any regulation of exhaust gas emissions, while awaiting specific regulation expected over the next two years.

Meanwhile what is EU DGIII doing? It has prepared and is processing proposals for the regulation of the recreational marine engines "alone".

This evident absurdity is not the end of the story. The proposal also includes noise thresholds (not even considered by the EPA), and would moreover bring in complicated procedures for control and certification as ineffectual as they are expensive. These would affect boats and would tend to pass on to the users and to the second-hand market the effects of a Directive that declares in its premise not to affect them. The first to react were the English, traditional champions of the culture of freedom and deregulation, who accused the Commission of obscure manoeuvres and of submitting to the power of lobbies. It should also be noted that the proposals are being carried out against the will of European marine engines builders: a stern paper sent by them to the Commission called for the suspension and review, and possible cancellation, of the regulation in question, in that this regulation, instead of supporting the European engine economy, would finally constitute an insurmountable technical barrier, a mortal blow for the European boating industry and for its related economy.

The game now is over! We want to see the cards held by Costas Andropoulos; we want to know the identity of the "experts" advising him, and from where they draw their nonsensical thresholds and their insulated statements; we want to clarify how it is that a Commission which is supposed to prepare Directives supporting and protecting European industry manages to damage it, in the name of targets which it is not committed to reach, and which, as the EPA has declared, are neither significant nor urgent, nor, in the case of the noise, even an existing problem.

We want to know what position ICOMIA holds on the subject. And, being Italian, we also want to know what UCINA intends to do, because UCINA would prove to be a completely ineffectual association if it were not capable of protecting the future of Italian boating, or of demonstrating that it had done all that was possible: and there are plenty of ways to proceed, if one so desires.

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