New EPA Emission Regs for 2010 SD/OB Engines - 09/10/2008

Boat Smoke
A conventional, carbureted 2-stroke engine will be joining the horse and buggy in 2010 in the U.S.
See explanation of MerCruiser catalytic converter on a 350 Scorpion...

Last week's EPA announcement said that, "Each year, Americans spend more than 3 billion hours using lawn and garden equipment and more than 500 million hours in recreational boating.

"When fully implemented, the rule will yield annual emission reductions of 600,000 tons of hydrocarbons, 130,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 5,500 tons of direct particulate matter, and 1.5 million tons of carbon monoxide (CO)."

Health Risk of Boating Emissions

The EPA press release continues, "As a result, the total estimated public health benefits range between $1.6 and $4.4 billion by 2030. These benefits outweigh estimated costs by at least eight to one, while preventing over 300 premature deaths, 1,700 hospitalizations, and 23,000 lost workdays annually."

The EPA release does not explain how these numbers materialized, but we assume they are an extrapolation from macro data that involved emissions from cars, electricity generation, industry and all other sources. Obviously if there were only boats and weed whackers causing the emissions no one would be dying or going to the hospital as a result of fouled air.

U.S. Fuel Savings could equal 1/10th of 1%

The release went on to say, "EPA expects the new standards to save approximately 190 million gallons of gasoline each year." This is about 1/2-day supply for the U.S. according to the Dept. of Energy.

The EPA also said, "This regulation also includes the first national standards for boats powered by stern drive or inboard engines, and carbon monoxide standards for gasoline-powered engines used in recreational watercraft. Recreational watercraft powered by gasoline engines will incur a 70 percent reduction in HC and NOx emissions, a 20 percent reduction in CO and a 70 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions."

A very positive result of these new standards should be the reduction in boaters' deaths due to CO poisoning. Over 60 deaths have been proved to have been caused by CO from both marine gas engines and generators over the last five years. When this law takes effect, the non-CO safe gas generators made by Onan and Westerbeke will be virtually the only high-CO producing engines in boats.

Indmar was the first U.S. engine maker to introduce a catalytic converter.

How much will 2010 stern drive and inboard engines cost?

To meet EPA regs inboard and stern drive engines will not only have to have catalytic converters, but they will also have to have onboard diagnostic systems. These systems will automatically alert the operator when there is an engine malfunction and when emissions exceed a preset limit. It will then be incumbent on the owner to take the boat in for servicing.

The engine makers are reluctant to be quoted on the increased price of their engines and they have no idea what the boat builders will add. From what we can gather, the new engines intended for California cost about $2000 more each at retail. Whether or not this price goes down when the whole country -- about 63,000 units a year -- comes on line remains to be seen.

Will outboard engines cost more in 2010?

Since outboard makers do not have to strap on catalytic converters and making their engines compliant only involves adjusting their fuel calibration systems, their expenses rest more in engineering. We assume that price increases, if any at all, will be minimal, and not related to the new standards.

Carbureted 2-stroke outboards that your grandfather used as a kid can not meet the new emissions standards and will be effectively outlawed in the United States. However, most outboard makers will continue selling them elsewhere in the world.

The high-pressure, fuel injected 2-stroke outboards, such as the Evinrude ETEC, Mercury OptiMax and Yamaha 2-Stroke High Power, will meet the new EPA regs and will continue to be sold.

Will performance suffer?

Based on our testing experience with both MerCruiser and Crusader/PCM engines built for the California markets, there will be no loss in performance among stern drive and inboard engines. A spokesman for Volvo Penta says their engines will have no change in performance.

Will high-performance engines comply?

Since catalytic converters would be blown off high-performance racing engines, the CARB and EPA standards have been lowered so that these engines can comply with current technology. Mercury Racing is allowed to average its emissions with the parent company’s compliant production engines. Small, boutique racing engine shops are exempt because they build so few units.

Will currently installed engines be grandfathered?

Yes. For now. Old automobiles are still legally on the road without the new EPA mandated technology and we suspect will be for some time. Whether or not the EPA will allow boats to follow the automobile precedent remains to be seen, but we think it is a safe assumption.

This is Norilsk, Russia, said by some observers to have the worst air quality in the world. How many years will it be before Russia even has an EPA?
Will CARB emissions standards spread world-wide?

As yet we have not heard of impending standards world-wide. But if the French and Italians can start banning smoking in restaurants and bars anything is possible -- in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. We're not so hopeful for the developing world.

Your Comments Please...