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From good news to absurd views

There’s good news for boating in that more than 45,000 lapsed boaters in 19 states returned to boating and reregistered their boats in 2013, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The RBFF began its lapsed boater program in 2009 as a pilot project aimed at contacting and encouraging boaters who had disappeared from the registration roles and, therefore presumed to be not boating anymore, to get back to boating. Initially, four states participated in the pilot - Ohio, Oregon, Florida and Tennessee. Its success led to 15 participating states by 2012 in which more than 32,000 lapsed boaters came back.

“This year,” RBFF president Frank Peterson says, “the program has already topped 45,000 lapsed boaters with 18 of the 19 participating states reporting. (Maine will not report until October.) What it means for those 19 states is $1.627 million in revenue that can be used to support their fisheries programs as well as developing more access for boating and fishing. It’s a true win-win for everyone.”

Looking ahead, Peterson expects 25-30 states to participate in next year’s program. Overall, RBFF is marking it 15th year as a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to increase awareness and participation in boating and fishing nationwide while advocating for the protection of our aquatic resources. RBFF’s national brand is its “Take Me Fishing” campaign.

Now for the absurd

To highlight how utterly absurd the whole issue of increasing ethanol in our gasoline supply from E10 to E15 has become, the Federal Trade Commission has now announced it will investigate allegations that the oil companies are blocking the distribution of higher ethanol blends (E15).

FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez reportedly said the agency is investigating at the behest of Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "We have heard allegations that the oil industry is mandating retailers to carry and sell premium gasoline, thereby blocking the use of current retail infrastructure to sell renewable fuel," the senators wrote in a letter.

Now, I’m no astute political observer, but it doesn’t take one to see through this latest clamor. Grassley and Klobuchar are from ethanol-producing states – 38 plants in Iowa, 17 in Minnesota. It’s evident they’re feeling the rising wave in Congress to dump the Renewable Fuel Standard and well they should. I’m not sure whether the ethanol mandate or the luxury tax on boats should rank tops in convoluted programs enacted by Congress.

Grassley and Klobuchar have hit the low road. Obviously, their allegations are an attempt to create a distraction from the real issue - that the fuel standard is broken, out-of-date and should be repealed. Even the EPA that pandered to the ethanol lobby by approving E15 for market while, I believe, clearing violating the intent of Congress, is now hoping lawmakers will bail the agency out.

Bottom line: The push by so many, from industries like ours that can foresee millions of small engines destroyed to environmental groups that have learned ethanol is harmful to the environment is having a effect. So, for this Labor Day, let’s commit to keeping the pressure on until Congress acts with common sense and scuttles the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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