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EPA Efforts to Promote Clean Marine Engines Paying Off - Most of New England's Marine Engine Sales Are Lower Polluting Models

Release Date: 07/13/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: July 13, 2005; Release # sr050707

About four-fifths of the outboard motors and watercraft engines sold in New England in the last three years by participating retailers were low pollution models, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced this week.

These figures were reported by EPA's New England office as part of its New England Clean Marine Engine Program, designed to accelerate the sale of low pollution two- and four-stroke engines. The effort, begun in 2002, involves a wide range of retailers, manufacturers, trade associations and state and federal environmental associations in all six New England states.

"EPA's voluntary clean-marine initiative will have long-term environmental and fuel-saving benefits during the entire 20 plus years that these clean engines remain in use," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The clean engines sold over the past few years will greatly reduce air, water and noise pollution around New England's beautiful lakes and waterways, while allowing greater fuel efficiency for boaters."

The joint effort involves participating retailers; the National Marine Manufacturers Association; the Marine Retailers Association of America; New England and New York state marine trade associations; New England and New York state environmental agencies; and EPA Regions 1 and 2. These groups are participating in a voluntary initiative to encourage the sale of low polluting outboard engines and personal watercraft engines. Low pollution marine engines are considered those that meet or exceed the 2006 EPA requirements for manufacturers' emission standards.
During the past year, participating retailers reported they sold 4226 marine engines, of which 77 percent were low pollution models. This number is slightly below the average for the past three years.

"Its probable that the pollution reduction benefits of the clean-marine initiative would be even more impressive if we accounted not just for the number but also the size of the clean engines sold each year," said Bob Butcher, President of the Cape Cod Marine Trades Association. "Since nearly all of the bigger outboard and personal watercraft marine engines sold today are the low pollution models, and the carbureted older models are mostly found in smaller engines with low horse power, this initiative is making a marked difference in reducing pollution from marine engines."

For next year, the EPA New England office is considering collecting sales data among the participating retailers based on sales within various horse power ranges. Traditional small boat engines are two-stroke carbureted engines, in which up to 30 percent of fuel passes through the combustion chamber unburned, or partially burned, thereby directly releasing some fuel into the water and air. This produces hydrocarbon emissions that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone or smog. Gasoline discharged to the water elevates concentrations of benzene, MTBE and other toxics in lakes, ponds and coastal waters.

The two types of low pollution marine engines are the four-stroke engines and two-stroke direct fuel injection engines. These cleaner engines help meet EPA low-pollution requirements by reducing air pollution by 75 percent or more, lowering gasoline discharges to the water, improving fuel efficiency by 35 to 50 percent, and using up to 50 percent less oil. Other benefits include easier starting, better response, and less smoke and noise.

EPA and its program partners are doing outreach to help boaters learn about clean engines and where to find participating retailers. In fact, EPA recently developed GIS maps that highlight the location of each participating retailer. These maps along with other information will be prominently displayed at events such as various boat shows throughout New England this year.

For further information, and for state specific information, see the EPA Clean Marine Engine Website at: