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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Administrator Johnson, American Boating Congress, Washington, D.C.

05/07/2007
Thank you, Thom (Dammrich), for the introduction.

It is a pleasure to join you and this armada of marine manufacturers at the American Boating Congress.

You’ve picked a beautiful week for your conference. The weather here in D.C. has finally turned a corner, and for those out-of-towners, I hope you find time to test the waters of the Potomac, or make it out on one of America’s most precious natural treasures: the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s truly great to be with you all today … and I appreciate that you’ve scheduled time in your agenda to talk about how, together, EPA and U.S. boating manufacturers are working to hand the next generation a healthier, more prosperous world.

Over my 26 years as a public servant, I’ve witnessed what can be achieved when passionate people unite to face environmental challenges. Looking around, we see the fruits of collaboration all around us.

Our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected than just a generation ago. However, we aren’t ready to drop anchor and rest on our successes. EPA and the entire Bush Administration are actively working with partners like the National Marine Manufacturers Association to keep our environmental progress moving ahead full throttle.

As we move forward to protect and improve our water resources, together we are not only building on our nation’s environmental accomplishments, we are creating a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.

Part of this legacy is our work to shift America into a “green” culture.

From newspaper headlines to the covers of Fortune 500 reports, we are reading about more and more companies, communities and individuals working to outdo each other in going “green.”

Today, instead of having only 17,000 EPA employees working to protect the environment, we now have over 300 million American as environmental partners. Americans from all sectors of society – communities, businesses and individuals – have begun to embrace the fact that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility…not just the responsibility of EPA.

At my Agency, we continue to do our part. By focusing on cooperation over conflict… and by equipping this growing fleet of environmental stewards with the tools they need to meet today’s challenges, EPA is helping America shift into this green culture.

I’m pleased the recreational boating industry continues to be a leader in the race to go green.

And it’s a good thing, because Americans love your products. Today, there’s more than 13 million watercraft registered here in the U.S., and annual usage is up to 500 million hours per year. EPA is pleased to be working in collaboration with your industry to reduce the impacts of your vessels on our air and water quality. Together, we’re keeping our environmental progress moving ahead full throttle.

As the manufacturers of America’s recreational boats and watercraft, you can appreciate how much our nation depends on our water resources. Healthy waters make for healthy economies. At EPA, we recognize the value of commercial and recreational boating to our environmental and economic well-being.

As many of you know, EPA is significantly involved in the debate over incidental discharges from smaller, recreational watercraft. A court ruling from last September has potentially required all boats to carry permits for discharges incidental to their normal operations.

This may mean that more than 8,000 ocean-going ships with ballast tanks – as well as, 81,000 commercial fishing boats, 52,000 freight barges and more than 13 million recreational boats – would be affected. These types of discharges pose unique challenges, because, as you can fully appreciate, these boats are very diverse and highly mobile.

The exclusion from permitting requirements has been in place for over thirty years, and EPA respectfully disagrees with the court decision. While, we have filed a notice of appeal to the court, EPA believes it is necessary to prepare a practical rulemaking framework for authorizing discharges from boats before the exclusion ends in 2008.

We understand the wide-ranging impacts of the court ruling, and are exploring all options, including the establishment of an appropriate permitting program. As with all regulatory actions, we intend to ask for public comment, and I hope the members of National Marine Manufacturers Association and all of our boating partners will actively participate in the process.

I want to stress that EPA’s appeal does not reflect a dismissal of the significant impacts of invasive aquatic species. Rather, EPA believes the Clean Water Act does not currently provide an appropriate framework for addressing ballast water and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of boats.

We continue to use the scientific and regulatory tools available to combat invasive species. Currently, EPA is providing rapid response guidance for agencies, as well as working closely with the Coast Guard and Congress to strengthen and improve the protection against invasive species.

Healthy waters make for healthy economies. Invasive species pose threats to our environment, as well businesses and individuals who rely on our water resources to support their livelihoods.

EPA is encouraging our Congressional partners to enact legislation to create environmentally-sound, uniform, federal ballast water discharge standards and requirements.

Also, together with the U.S. Coast guard and the individual states, we are working to protect human health and the environment from disease-causing microorganisms which may be present in sewage from boats.

These are just a few examples of how EPA is working with our partners to keep America’s environmental progress moving ahead full throttle.

My agency is involved in a wide array of activities and programs to protect, manage, and preserve our nation’s ocean and coastal waters.

We are helping meet the President’s goal of restoring at least three million acres of wetlands.

We are supporting local efforts to implement green infrastructure techniques to address their water quality challenges.

And, perhaps most importantly, we are advancing our scientific understanding in order to help make better informed decisions.

In order to fill in our scientific data gaps, EPA has enlisted our own ocean survey vessel – The Bold. We call it our floating laboratory, because it’s equipped with state-of-the-art sampling, mapping, and analysis equipment to help EPA chart a healthier course for our oceans.

Since it first set sail for EPA in 2005, the Bold has conducted scientific surveys from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, to the waters of New England. Its activities have ranged from conducting scientific assessments of Gulf hypoxia, researching red tide, and monitoring coral reefs. And most notably, the Bold assisted in the federal response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita – testing the coastal impact of those storms and analyzing the health of marine life.

Unlike the recreational vehicles you produce, The Bold is all work and no play … unless you’re a scientist like me, and then the floating laboratory seems much more exciting than a pontoon party boat.

Recognizing that healthy waters make for healthy economies, EPA is pleased to be working in collaboration with our industry and community partners to protect our water resources. However, I’d also like to take a few minutes to discuss ways we are working together to keep our nation’s air quality progress moving ahead full throttle.

A decade ago, EPA issued its first-ever emission standards for gasoline-powered recreational watercraft. Your industry responded impressively – not only meeting these requirements earlier than required, but moving aggressively toward developing and marketing lower emitting engines for personal watercraft and outboard motors. On the diesel side, the boating industry is also responding well … and we are now phasing in the first set of emission control requirements for marine diesels engines using recreational applications.

As I mentioned previously, despite this great progress, we haven’t dropped anchor. In order to realize further cuts in marine air emissions, EPA proposed new rules for marine diesel engines in January, and marine gasoline engines and vessels last month.

Currently, recreational watercraft can emit as much pollution in one hour as 348 cars. By the year 2030, under the new standards gasoline-powered recreational watercraft would see a 70 percent reduction in pollutants that contribute to smog, a 20 percent reduction in carbon monoxide, and a 70 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.

While it will take an investment in new technology by everyone in this room, these new standards will provide an estimated $3.4 billion in public health benefits, and prevent hundreds of premature deaths by the year 2030. In addition, when fully implemented, these regulations will save about 190 million gallons of fuel each year - proving that doing what’s good for the environment can also be good for your wallets.

We are committed to continuing to work in a cooperative spirit with industry and other stakeholders as we move to finalize these regulations. With your help and valuable input, I’m confident we can develop rules for both engine types that are cost effective, take advantage of the latest innovations, and benefit public health.

In another air quality-related action, last month I signed the final rule to implement the nation’s first comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. This program requires at least 7.5 billion gallons of homegrown, renewable fuel to be blended into motor fuel by 2012.

The RFS offers the American people a hat trick – it protects the environment, strengthens our energy security, and supports our farming economy.

As we move forward, fuels with higher and higher percentages of ethanol are being discussed – such as e-85.

As you know, Minnesota has already initiated this discussion. Their program would require a 20 percent ethanol blend in all gasoline sold in the state. EPA is working closely with you and other stakeholders on the “data needs” to support Minnesota’s formal application. We understand your concern that a 20 percent ethanol blend could negatively impact the existing fleet of boats and marine engines, and we expect to have preliminary data from the state later this summer. At that point, we’ll be able to sit down with stakeholders like you and continue this cooperative effort as we move forward.

It looks like my time is up, but I hope this discussion gave you a clear overview of how EPA is working with our partners in the recreational marine industry to keep our nation’s environmental and economic progress moving ahead full throttle.

Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. I wish you luck for the remainder of your Boating Congress, as well as your industry’s continued success in 2007.

Thank you.