Nautique steps up as the EPA still ponders


A shout-out to Nautique president and CEO Bill Yeargin for stepping up to a deal with CBS as the title sponsor of the Nautique U.S. Open of Water Skiing.

The U.S. Open has been dry-docked for seven years. Bringing it back as the Nautique U.S. Open will certainly serve Nautique well and that’s as it should be. But there’s no doubt Nautique’s commitment will also benefit all players in the water-ski industry.

The sponsorship agreement runs for three years. This year’s event is headed for Orlando’s Lake Ivanhoe on Oct. 25. It expected to feature the world’s top men and women three-event athletes. Moreover, the winners in each skiing discipline will lock up an invitation to the 2015 Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament slated for Memorial Day weekend at Callaway Gardens, Ga.

It’s a fact that boating events, like major sailboat races, fishing tournaments, offshore powerboat races and the like, promote their unique interests. But there’s no denying they also call attention to boating in its various forms, influence buying decisions among their followers and their media coverage puts boating in front of a broader public.

Finally, Nautique’s decision to bring back the U.S. Open is another sign that our industry is back . . . and we’re confident enough to invest in our future growth.

Waiting on the EPA

A final Renewable Fuel Standards rule has been drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The rule will set the volume requirements for ethanol in future gasoline supplies

In what could be a signal that the rule might increase the ethanol volume, something the boating industry and many others vigorously oppose, an EPA spokesman reportedly stated: "The agency’s overarching goal is to put the fuel-standard program on a path that supports continued growth in renewable fuels in the future.”

It’s known that the EPA received 340,000 comments related to setting the volume. It’s unknown how many came from ethanol producers pushing for higher volumes. The EPA’s final determination is in the rule sent to OMB.

The EPA won’t release any information until after the OMB review, but Larry Innis, the Washington lobbyist for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, indicates rumors in D.C. are circulating that the total volume numbers could be increased in the EPA rule. That would result in more than the current 10 percent (E10) in gas at the pump, something the boating industry and many others have been fighting to prevent.

It’s required that OMB review all agency-written rules prior to finalization. This review is expected to take several months. Meanwhile, the MRAA, NMMA and many others continue to appeal to Congress for stabilization or outright repeal of the outdated fuel standard.