California Bowen Bill AB2439
Press Coverage

New Steps To Protect Water Supply
EBMUD votes to use cleaner boat engines

San Francisco Examiner
Jan 14, 1998
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

The East Bay Municipal Utility District board voted yesterday to equip boats at three reservoirs with new engines that emit less MTBE contamination into the water.

But a more politically charged decision was deferred until next month on whether to ban all privately owned recreation boats with high-polluting engines from the reservoirs beginning in 2000.

Yesterday's vote authorized spending $425,000 over the next two years to convert 150 small craft, including rental boats owned by concessionaires, at San Pablo Reservoir in Contra Costa County and at Pardee and Camanche reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada.

The concessionaires' boats will be converted at district expense,because there is nothing in existing contracts making the rental operators responsible for changing the engines.

The switch from two-stroke engines to low-emission, four-stroke engines would reduce MTBE concentrations at San Pablo Reservoir by 40 percent, according to estimates by the utility district.

MTBE is a chemical added to California's reformulated gasoline that has been credited with helping reduce air pollution throughout the state. Critics, however, say that MTBE is finding its way into some sources of drinking water and could pose a serious health risk to humans. MTBE dissolves easily in water and is difficult to remove.

EBMUD officials said their action yesterday is the first time in the Bay Area that a water agency has moved to restrict the kinds of boat engines that are allowed on reservoirs because of MTBE pollution. At Lake Tahoe, a planning board has approved a ban on two- stroke engines, but a marine association has filed suit to prevent it from taking effect in 1999.

While the change over for EBMUD's boats will occur during the next two years, it was unclear to what extent private boats would be affected -- and when any restrictions would take effect.

Several board members yesterday called for an outright ban on all gasoline engines on the district's reservoirs, saying that the public's health supersedes the need for recreation.

They said MTBE is showing up in water supplies to a point that even with no health risk, the public potentially could be adversely impacted by the smell and taste of the chemical in the water.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, is added at 11 percent to almost every gallon of gasoline sold in California. The chemical is a possible carcinogen and in some places has started leaking into the water supply from underground storage tanks.

The chemical has been found at San Pablo Reservoir, according to EBMUD.

``I think our first responsibility is to deliver water of the highest quality,'' said board member Bill Patterson. ``We need to send a clear message.''

Board member Mary Selkirk agreed. ``Most people don't have a clue that there's gasoline-powered engines in their water supply,'' she said. ``If they did, they would insist on a complete ban.''

But board member John Coleman expressed concerns about the district's existing contracts with its boat concessionaires, as well as for private boat owners for whom EBMUD is obligated by law to provide recreational opportunities.

Board members also haggled over when to implement any ban, with Danny Wan arguing that the MTBE health risks required one to be in place, for at least the two- stroke engine type, by 2000.

The panel tabled a vote on a two-stroke-engine ban until February 24.

EBMUD officials and environmentalists agreed yesterday that phasing out the high-polluting engines on its own boats could encourage private boat owners to do the same.

``EBMUD is doing the right thing because their job is to protect public health,'' said Russell Long, director of Earth Island Institute's Bluewater Network.

©1998 San Francisco Chronicle

Capitol Insider: Boat industry in an uproar over proposed motor ban

Sacramento Bee
27 April 1998
By Anthony York
The state's recreational boating industry is irate about a legislative proposal to ban the use of high-polluting outboard motors on more than 100 lakes and reservoirs throughout California.

The impact of the ban, the industry says, could be $800 million annually in lost sales.

The proposal, contained in Assembly Bill 2439, prohibits the use of high-polluting, two-stroke engines on lakes and reservoirs that supply drinking water. Two-stroke engines -- which need a mix of oil and gas to run -- are typically outboards that propel small fishing boats and personal watercraft such as jet skis and dump up to 25 percent of their fuel into the water unburned.

"If a person rowed a canoe out into the middle of Lake Tahoe and poured four gallons of gas into the lake, you'd want that person punished. That's exactly what's going on here with these jet skis that dump a quarter-tank of unburned gas into the water," said Assemblywoman Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, the bill's author.

The legislation follows similar restrictions passed for Lake Tahoe and nearby lakes and reservoirs. A crackdown on high-polluting engines also was enacted by the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Northern California.

Boating manufacturers and their Capitol lobbyists say Bowen's legislation could sink their industry, which, according to a state study last year, generates $11 billion annually.

"This bill would cost us anywhere between $660 million and $800 million, and that's not even taking into account all the restaurants, hotels and supermarkets that boaters stop in when they take their boat out," said Alan Clarke, a lobbyist for the Northern California Marine Association.

Clarke added that the boating industry has invested more than $500 million during the last several years to help develop a cleaner-burning, lightweight motor that will soon be available, in part to comply with federal rules that will ban the sale of new, high-polluting engines.

Bowen said her bill is a work in progress, especially with so much concern from the boating community.

"I've been around the legislative process long enough to know that you start with a Great Dane in hopes that you can get something that looks like a show-cut French poodle," Bowen said.

The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee has scheduled a hearing on AB 2439 for Tuesday.

Copyright © 1998 The Sacramento Bee

Boaters angry over proposed engine ban:
California lakes polluted by 2-cycle motors

Sacramento Bee
6 May 1998
By Chris Hays and Gary Voet
Bee Staff Writers
Supporters of a proposed ban on 2-cycle engines claim they are heavy polluters, spilling gallons of gasoline, oil and hydrocarbon waste into the water, where they harm fish, wildlife and drinking water.

Boat owners and retailers are angry and feel unjustly singled out among polluters. The ban would pose significant inconvenience and financial hardship to many recent boat buyers, who may have spent $10,000 on a top-of-the-line engine only to find they won't be able to use it on their favorite lake much longer.

The California Legislature will be facing those issues this summer with Assembly Bill 2439, which seeks to outlaw more than 60 percent of the registered boats on about 60 lakes and reservoirs, including Folsom Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Berryessa, Clear Lake and Shasta Lake. The ban would cover any body of water that supplies drinking water.

Exempt from the ban are the recently introduced 4-cycle engines, inboard/outboard engines, marine conversions of car engines, (such as the Chevy V8s, popular on hot rod ski boats) and the handful of new 2-cycle engines with direct fuel injection. The bill also spares 2-cycle engines rated at 10 horsepower or less, since they process relatively little fuel.

Still, the law would affect about 500,000 of California's 800,000 registered boats, including nearly all personal watercraft (a.k.a. Jet Skis). There is no grandfather clause, but the bill has been amended to postpone the proposed ban until Jan. 1, 2004. The sale of such engines, however, would be banned starting Jan. 1, 1999.

The bill was recently re-introduced to the Assembly's Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. After 21/2 hours of debate among the members of the committee, the bill, authored by Debra Bowen, D-Torrance, passed by a vote of 5-3 and is now headed to the floor of the Assembly.

If the bill passes there, it will head to the Senate to start a series of committee reviews and then, maybe, to the Senate floor.

If the bill survives intense lobbying in the Assembly and Senate, it could reach the governor's desk by late summer.

The science front

Boaters feel persecuted because by some estimates that boats account for only 3 percent of hydrocarbon emissions, less than lawn mowers, for example, and far less than cars.

Fishermen, water skiers and other boaters would not intentionally harm the waters they enjoy.

Bowen said she sympathized with those who bought boats in good faith, without knowing their pollution potential.

"Technology is our friend, and we ought to force the manufacturers to use it a way that accommodates more people on the lakes with less impact," she said. "Everybody starts out agreeing with that; it's just a matter of how we get there fairly."

But for boaters who have spent thousands of dollars on the boat engines she proposes to ban, there is no fair way.

Tests show that 25 percent of the fuel/oil mix used in 2-cycle engines that are carbureted or use electronic fuel injection passes through the engine unburned to help cooling. So if a boater burns 20 gallons of gas in a day, five gallons of it is released as waste.

There is considerable debate about how much of that waste is released into the air, how much into the water, and how quickly it evaporates. The bill's opponents contend that the 25 percent figure was arrived at using older engines that do not burn as cleanly as new 2-cycle EFIs.

A 4-stroke emits only about 3 percent as much waste as a carbureted or EFI 2-stroke, according to research by Boating World magazine.

All Honda outboards are already 4-cycle, and other engine makers also have started to move toward cleaner engines. In addition, a couple of personal watercraft companies have started to build 4-cycle models despite the significant weight penalty.

Manufacturers who want to sell boats in this state will have no choice starting next year, if the bill takes effect. Bowen said that measure is intended to protect uninformed consumers.The cost of clean

The bad news for informed consumers is that there's no way to modify an engine to comply with the proposed law, according to Gary Peeler, manager of California Custom Marine in Sacramento. So boaters would have to buy a new engine -- which would cost $7,500-$15,000, depending on the engine's power -- or stay off the banned bodies of water.

And there simply is no existing technology to match the power-to-weight ratio of the most powerful 2-cycle engines, according to Joe White of Galaxie Marine in Auburn.

Even reserved boat owners are taking a show-me attitude toward the pollution issue.

"They've got to prove to me that my boat is a major source of pollution," said pro bass fisherman Jon Bakken, who owns a 200-horsepower bass boat. "And is the state going to buy my boat? I don't think so. They're going to have to phase it in if it happens."

The way the bill is written now, that's wishful thinking.

And although Bowen is trying to find a source of funding for an early buyout program for the old engines -- modeled on Southern California's "clunker-junker" program that buys pre-1982 cars for approximately $800 to get the heavy polluters off the roads -- it seems unlikely that boaters will get fair reimbursement for their loss.

Unlike 16-year-old cars, many 2-stroke EFI engines are very new, very high-tech and very expensive. And the remaining areas where those 2-cycles would be allowed -- including all rivers, the Delta and the San Francisco Bay -- are little consolation to owners, who fear the obsolescence of their $25,000 boats.Only the beginning

The more hopeful opponents said they believed Bowen was introducing a bill that was far too strong with the expectation that it will be watered down in the legislative process.

"When you start working with a St. Bernard, you may end up with a groomed poodle," White said. "So by going in with the most extreme measure, she may end up with something that she thinks may help water pollution in California."

Although other Bowen opponents cast her as a poorly informed environmental extremist, she was at pains to assert that she is not "a wild-eyed lunatic."

"I bought my fishing license last week," Bowen said. "I'm going for three days this weekend.. . . I may even learn to bass fish this season."

Bowen's fishing habit may be little consolation to owners and retailers of 2-cycle engines.

"When customers hear about (the ban), they get panicky," said Steve Binyon of Galaxie Marine.

On the pro side are many environmental groups, California Trout, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Federation of Fly Fishers.

Opposition is from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Black Bass Action Committee and several recreational boating organizations in California.Fear and the future

The effects of AB 2439 are difficult to predict, but even bodies of water that don't supply drinking water could be affected, since boaters would be displaced and could cause overcrowding. Retailers would have to re-think and re-stock. Marinas at banned lakes could be in for rough times for a while.

Even now, boat retailers in the area report that rumors of the ban have hurt sales.

White, who said he does not believe AB 2439 will pass into law, called the bill a "scare tactic."

If so, that part of the bill's purpose has already taken effect.

Which lakes will the ban affect?

A working list of lakes that would be affected by the 2-cycle engine ban proposed in Assembly Bill 2439 (Source: California Department of Health Services)


Foothills -- Bass Lake, Camanche Lake, Clear Lake, Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma, Lake Pillsbury, Lake Sonoma, Millerton Lake, Lake Nacimiento, Pardee Lake, Lake San Antonio, Santa Margarita Lake, Shasta Lake, Lake Tulloch, Whiskeytown Lake.

Sierra Nevada Cherry Lake, Donner Lake, Davis Lake, Lake Spaulding, Lake Tahoe, Silver Lake.

Not affected

San Joaquin Delta, San Francisco Bay, Pacific Ocean, Lake Oroville, Don Pedro Reservoir, New Melones Reservoir, Trinity Lake, Lake Almanor, Eagle Lake, Lake Amador, Beardsley Lake, Convict Lake, French Meadows Reservoir, Stampede Lake, Boca Lake, and all rivers.

Copyright © 1998 The Sacramento Bee

Bill to ban polluting engines altered

Contra Costa Times
Associated Press
23 May 1998
SACRAMENTO -- Assemblywoman Debra Bowen has watered down her bill to phase out old, polluting two-stroke engines that power Jet Skis and other personal watercraft.

Under pressure, Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, changed the bill to ban sales of such engines after Jan. 1, 2002, unless they are already operating in California.

The change means that current owners of boats with the two-cycle engines could continue using, buying and selling those engines in use as long as they want.

But Assemblyman Bernie Richter R-Chico, who opposes the bill, called the amendments "cockeyed and messed up." He said the wording still would prevent people from using marine equipment as they want.

The amended bill must be debated and approved by the full Assembly by Friday to meet a legislative deadline.

At issue is the fate of the larger two-stroke engines that discharge 25 percent of their fuel-oil mixture into the water, according to studies cited in a legislative analysis of the bill.

The discharge includes known carcinogens such as benzene and toluene, as well as methyl tertiary butyl ether or MTBE, a gasoline additive and suspected carcinogen.

With an estimated 500,000 boat owners potentially affected by AB2439 and millions of other outdoor enthusiasts, boat makers and retailers stirred up, Bowen became the target of intense lobbying.

Originally, Bowen proposed banning the use of the larger two-strokes on lakes and reservoirs used for drinking water in June 1999.

She later revised the bill to ban the sale of the engines after Jan. 1, 1999, but allowed continued use of existing ones until June 2004.

Now she has dropped any effort to restrict the use of currently owned machines and focus instead on preventing more of the polluting version of the two-stroke engines to be sold in California after 2002.

Her changes were adopted Thursday after the Assembly rejected a move to shift the bill to studying the removal of MTBE from fuel used in marine engines.

Bowen has termed the older two-stroke engines "California's biggest unchecked source of toxic water pollution," one that threatens fish and other wildlife and boosts the cost of providing clean drinking water.

© 1998 Contra Costa Newspapers

Clean water bill isn't exactly crystal clear

Conta Costa Times
Outdoors: Jerry Gandy
28 May 1998
ANGLERS LONG HAVE been at the head of the clean water movement, but now they appear to some as villains because of their opposition to Southern California Assemblywoman Debra Bowen's bill (AB 2439).

The Torrance-Marina del Rey Democrat's proposed legislation would ban two-stroke engines over 10 horsepower on California's lakes, reservoirs and waterways that supply public drinking water.

The assemblywoman has expressed concern over the presence of menthyl tertiary butyl ether in drinking water.

Beaching boaters, anglers and hunters will not solve the problem since MTBE also is found in wells and lakes that do not have boating.

United Anglers of California, the Black Bass Action Committee and United Outdoorsmen oppose the bill, which may come up for a vote Friday.

The bill has the support of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Cal Trout and the California Federation of Flyfishers.

Jim Crenshaw, president of the CSPA, contends the problem is that from 30 to 40 percent of a two-stroke engine's fuel goes unburned into the water.

"If it means take two-stroke engines out of service, so be it," he said.

The groups opposing the bill claim the carcinogen, which has been mandated as a gasoline additive by the California Air Resources Board, still will be introduced into water supplies by natural means even if the legislation passes.

They contend the economy will suffer because the law would ban almost all boating by the year 2004.

"All of us in the boating industry are concerned about the quality of the state's water," said Craig Jacobsen, who operates an Alameda outboard motor shop.

"In fact, the marine manufacturers have recently introduced new high technology engines that will reduce emissions by 80 percent, fuel consumption by 35 percent and oil usage by 50 percent."

Jacobsen said CARB is considering regulations that will impose harsher standards than those already passed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"If passed, AB 2439 would hurt my customers and the investment they have made in their boats, cause a major downturn in California tourism and put me and hundreds of others in the industry out of business," Jacobsen said.

"That would have a major impact on our state's economy. Recreational boating provides 184,000 jobs and contributes $11 billion annually to the California economy."

In addition to the nearly three-quarters of a million owners whose boats are directly affected, those who boat, fish and hunt with them will be indirectly affected, according to John Beuttler of the Black Bass Action Committee.

"If the state is going to pass this legislation," Beuttler suggested, "the legislature should grandfather in all of the two-stroke engines currently in use."

Replacement engines will cost from $4,000 to $15,000, depending upon size, according to Beuttler.

Retirees on fixed incomes will find themselves legislated out of recreation, according to Don Reighley of the BBAC.

In addition to dealers such as Jacobsen, others who would be affected by the law include tackle shops, convenience stores, gas stations and RV parks, Reighley said.

He noted that communities such as Clear Lake, Oroville and Redding, whose economies depend upon recreational spending, would be hard pressed to survive.

"All of California, as result of the loss in state tax revenues and the fiscal impact associated with the reduction in (recreational) activities, will suffer a devastating financial effect," Reighley said.

A spokesperson at Bowen's office said carbureted two-stroke engines are inherently big polluters.

The boating industry counters that the assemblywoman's science is flawed since MTBE appears in non-boating reservoirs.

Rain, runoff and underground leaks are sources of water pollution, according to engine manufacturers who claim that automobiles are putting MTBE into the environment.

"Refineries should use a friendlier additive than MTBE," Beuttler recommended.

"That makes too much sense," said Vic Macchietto of the San Pablo Reservoir management team.

© 1998 Contra Costa Times

AB 2439 Defeated!

Northern California Bass Fishing Network Fishing Forum
Thursday 28 May 1998 
9:25 pm pacific time
Posted by Chris on Thursday, 28 May 1998, at 9:25 p.m.

Here ye, here ye, ... The Masses have spoken! And spoken very loud. 

According to Assemblyman Bernie Richter's Office, Assemblywoman 
Debra Bowen informed Assemblyman Richter late this afternoon that 
she will not be placing AB 2439 on the Assembly floor for a vote 
tomorrow. She conceded that she could not put enough votes 
together to pass the bill out of the Assembly and up to the Senate. 


AB 2439 is dead!!!!!!! Who said you can't fight politics? 

Please let everyone know how well we all did on making our 
Legislature accountable to us! 

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