Bluewater settles lawsuit with recreation industry over pollution by jet skis and snowmobiles

Manufacturers to pay settlement, end sale of 2-stroke engines in CA, and provide warning labels.

provided by Bluewater Network


he environmental group Bluewater Network has settled a lawsuit with nine manufacturers of jet skis and snowmobiles, based on California's Safe Drinking Water Act, known as Prop 65. The suit relied upon studies by the California Air Resources Board and the University of California, Davis to assert that pollution from two-stroke motors pollutes water significantly and exposes riders and other people to extremely dangerous levels of carbon monoxide exhaust.

"This is a win for boaters, snowmobilers, and the environment. The latest studies confirm that two-stroke motors are endangering our drinking water, as well as exposing riders to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide exhaust. We're glad to see the recreation industry take some initiative to clean up their act."

The settlement will require manufacturers of snowmobiles and marine engines, within 120 days, to provide 3.5-by-2-inch hang-tag warning labels on all conventional two-stroke outboards, jet skis, and snowmobiles, reading: "Marine engines [snowmobile engines] discharge fuel and exhaust, which contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm, into the water [snow] on which they operate. Keep this engine properly tuned and avoid unnecessary idling and spillage during fueling."

This warning will also appear in the owners manual. Other provisions include payments of $175,000 to Ocean Advocates and San Francisco Baykeeper, environmental groups which are fighting oil spills and other emissions caused by industrial polluters (in addition to $125,000 in legal fees, for a total settlement of $300,000); termination of two-stroke marine engine sales in California by 2006 (the Air Board has already preempted this provision, establishing 2004); agreed-upon elements of a two-stroke trade-in program being developed for the Los Angeles area; and restrictions on misleading eco-labeling programs.

The settlement was entered into San Francisco Superior Court in San Francisco. Violations are punishable by contempt. Defendants are: Arctic Cat, Bombardier, Mercury Marine/Brunswick, Outboard Marine Corp., Polaris Industries, Suzuki Motors, Tohatsu Outboard Motors, and Yamaha Motors.

  Bluewater Network is the leader of a coalition of environmental organizations, citizens, and scientists dedicated to reducing pollution and ecological damage from vessels, vehicles, and craft. For more information, contact: Russell Long, Director, Bluewater Network, Earth Island Institute, 300 Broadway, Suite 28, San Francisco, CA 94133; (415) 788-3666x110; Fax: (415) 788-7324; email:; or Bill Verick, Esq., (707) 268-8900