SENATE BUDGET BILL FUELS HOPES OF DIESEL BOAT OWNERS
WASHINGTON, DC, October 30 - Thousands of long-suffering owners of
diesel-powered recreational boats who have been forced by short-sighted
government regulations to hunt for fuel will find some good news in the
budget bill recently approved by the U.S. Senate.
The Senate budget bill would suspend the existing 24.4 cents per gallon
federal tax on diesel fuel for nearly 14 months, from January 1, 1996
through February 28, 1997, and require the Treasury Department to study
new collection options that are less burdensome to recreational boat
owners. The diesel provisions were pushed by Sens. John Chafee (R-RI) and
John Breaux (D-LA), approved by Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth
(R-DE), and supported by both BOAT/U.S. and NMMA.
The legislation is necessary to correct a significant distribution
problem caused by the government when it began to add dye to diesel fuel
in January 1994 to distinguish between that which is for commercial boats
(red and tax-free) and that which is for recreational boats (clear and
The problem is that many fuel retailers only have one diesel tank and
pump. All around the country, from Maine to Alaska, fuel retailers near
large commercial fishing fleets have chosen to sell only red, non-taxed
diesel fuel. This has forced many recreational boat owners to travel many
additional hours or go significantly out of their way to obtain fuel.
BOAT/U.S. has heard from a number of diesel boat owners that their safety
was jeopardized because they could not obtain fuel during bad weather.
Fuel retailers and marinas have also complained that they have lost a
significant amount of business because the government has, in effect,
forced them to choose between selling to recreational or to commercial
Diesel boat owners are not yet out of the weather, however. The House
budget bill does not include any similar provision and the President has
threatened to veto the Republican budget bill if it is approved in its