Two-stroke ban pushed back to 2000
Tahoe residents and visitors may be able to celebrate the millennium in style by propelling environmentally improved jet skis on the frigid lake.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency extended the two-stroke engine ban to March 1, 2000, at its Wednesday meeting. TRPA boardmember Larry Sevison requested the recently passed ordinance be set back one year because manufacturers are considering the production of new technology that would be friendly to the environment. TRPA’s governing board, however, bumped the deadline up to March instead of June, citing the unofficial start of boating season.
The board’s action doesn’t come without specifications. Representatives of the National Marine Manufacturers Association will have to return on Sept. 24 with documentation from the industry that non-carbureted, two-stroke engines have been designed and will be on the market by the year 2000. TRPA will revoke the one-year amendment contingent on the manufacturers’ willingness to crank out some new engines.
“We are working our way through a quagmire of problems to come up with an amenable solution,” said Sevison. “If an agreement can’t be reached we’ll fall back to the ordinance. I think we can peacefully settle the issue with the big winner being the lake.”
The two-month period will enable industry experts and TRPA staff to work toward a solution. The short time frame will also postpone the 60-day statue-of-limitations clause for filing legal challenges against the bistate agency.
John Fagan, an attorney representing NMMA, said the board’s decision is a step forward but only asks for a general outline.
“My frustration continues to be the moving target and lack of direction of what the TRPA wants,” Fagan said.
TRPA adopted the ordinance, one of the basin’s fiercely contested issues, because of the declining rate of the lake’s clarity. Opponents argue that two-stroke engines emit as much as a fourth of their fuel unburned.
Larry Hoffman, who represents 12 of Tahoe’s concessionaires, said he was told by one manufacturer non-carbureted models will be available by the turn of the century. “The race is on out there to get this technology to the public,” he said.
TRPA boardmember John Upton suggested that if and when new models are field-tested, a benchmark opportunity would present itself.
“The basin has taken a beating over this issue,” he said. “It would be great to know that the first place they test the models is Tahoe. It would send a positive message.”
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