Lawsuit against TRPA was dead in water, anyway |

Lawsuit against TRPA was dead in water, anyway

B.H. Bose

Prior to news that next summer’s two-stroke ban date will be lifted, settlement negotiations in the lawsuit against the local governing agency had officially run aground, officials said.

However, with the decision by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency officials that the ban on two-stroke engines will be replaced in December with an ordinance following California Air Resources Board’s new emission regulations, one of the main issues in the lawsuit could become a moot point.

“It is great that the ban will probably be lifted, but we will have to see what is put out on the table before we can respond,” said Robert Galvin, vice commodore with the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club and a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It will depend on what other regulations they come up with.”

While the ban will not be officially dropped, replaced or amended until December, several other issues still remain, one of which is “grandfathering.” Grandfathering would exempt current two-stroke engines from having to meet the new requirements. Basically, it would mean that the TRPA regulations would apply only to new model years.

In its proposal, CARB’s regulations will apply to only marine engines produced and sold in California in or after the year 2001. Although officials with the local bistate agency said it will wait and follow California’s regulations, they have also eluded to the fact that they are against the “grandfathering” idea.

“They won’t even discuss the grandfathering issue,” said Galvin, who added that he would adamantly pursue his lawsuit until the agency agrees to allow non-complying outboard and personal watercraft engines. The main issue is engines of lower horsepower, such as ones found on small sailboats and dinghies, Galvin added.

John Marshall, legal counsel with the TRPA, believes that lawyers probably will wait until an amended or new standard is set in December.

“As far as I know, the negotiating talks have been exhausted, but you never know with settlements,” he said. “Until there is a final standard set, it would be a waste of time to litigate. I am confident, however, we will prevail with the two-stroke lawsuit.

“We are presently spending 50 to 60 thousand a month on the lawsuit. If we know full well that we will be changing our approach, it’s ridiculous to continue (with the ban date),” said Miner.

If the TRPA mirrors the new regulations set by the state, the legal issues against TRPA would switch to the state of California, said both Miner and Marshall.

Anyone or any party looking to take legal action would have to do so against CARB, since it will be the agency that will adopt and enforce the new regulations. Whether the TRPA approves all the stipulations of the new state emission standards will remain in question until at least the month of December.

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