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EPA looms big and troublesome for boating and fishing

While President Obama proposes billions more dollars to “boost small business,” including some provisions that ostensibly might also help our boating industry, his administration at EPA is poised to issue troublesome edicts affecting all boating and fishing interests on two fronts.

• Issue 1: The Environmental Protection Agency has been petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, to ban all lead from fishing jigs, sinkers, fly line, ballasted lures, spinners and all terminal tackle that contains lead. Moreover, the deadline for comments is just seven days away — next Wednesday, Sept. 15.

“A sudden ban on lead fishing products can only be called extremism,” says Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, who is calling on all MRAA members to submit a comment calling on the EPA to deny this petition. The petitioners say they want to reduce bird deaths caused by ingesting lead tackle. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies have found less than 1 percent of all waterfowl are killed by lead sinker ingestion.

“A rush decision to ban lead isn’t justified,” says Keeter.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance agrees. RFA executive director Jim Donofrio urges that while there may be some genuine concerns about lead-based terminal gear, a more sensible approach is to work with the industry to examine or develop alternative materials for the future.

Dealers and customers should weigh in now by urging the EPA to deny this petition to ban lead fishing products. It’s easy to comment. Just go to the EPA’s comment page at www.regulations.gov. Type “ban lead in fishing tackle” in the search box, and you’ll get the comment page along with comments from others. Remember, the deadline is Sept. 15.

• Issue 2: The battle continues to rage over a petition by ethanol producers to up the allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. No need to review the reasons boating opposes such an increase. Every dealer — and most boaters — know full well the potential damage E15 will do. E10 is already doing it. But a recent indication from the EPA that it’s considering approval of E15 for “newer road vehicles” has elevated the level of concern to code red. The result will be mass confusion.

Accordingly, NMMA and MRAA recently joined 37 other groups from a variety of industries calling for both the U.S. House and Senate to hold hearings on the pending EPA decision. Specifically, the groups have requested hearings be held in September to question top EPA and Department of Energy officials regarding the safety of E15. The EPA has indicated it will make a decision by the end of September.

The call for hearings needs a boost of support now, and dealers and employees can provide it. Simply writing your senators and representatives supporting the call for congressional hearings on the safety of E15 will go a long way. Just say what’s needed is thorough and objective scientific testing of E15, which has not be done to date, before allowing any increase in the quantity of ethanol in gas.

NMMA has made it easy to do by clicking here and entering your zip code. Once you get the name of your senators and representatives, simply e-mail them that you are requesting their support for the recent request made by a variety of industries, including boating, for badly needed congressional hearings into the safety of a proposed increase to E15 gasoline. But do it today, please.

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