We cherish our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters, not merely for their beauty but for the thriving boating and fishing industries they support. These industries are not the playground of the elite; they are the livelihoods of thousands of small business owners, workers, and communities throughout our state. The recently proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Tax (CBAT) threatens to jeopardize this essential sector, potentially causing severe damage to boat manufacturers, disrupting supply chains, and making boating and fishing prohibitively expensive for regular South Carolinians.
As chief executive officer of the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance (SCBFA), I bear witness daily to the tireless efforts and innovation of the men and women who make our industry thrive. The $6.5 billion boat manufacturing industry is not just an economic powerhouse but a source of pride and cultural identity for South Carolina. This is an industry heavily reliant on complex international supply chains, importing various materials and components from different parts of the world. The introduction of CBAT, which aims to penalize imports from countries that do not adhere to specific carbon pricing standards, will choke these supply chains and hurt the industry.
Small businesses form the backbone of our boating and fishing community. For many local boat manufacturers, the prospect of sourcing alternative supplies that meet CBAT standards will be costly, if not impossible. In the past decade, job growth has boomed in the transportation manufacturing space— an industry the carbon border tax would directly target. In total, manufacturing is responsible for nearly a third of South Carolina jobs. Those jobs would be put at immediate risk by the passage of the carbon border tax. This tax will drive up production costs, leading to an immediate price increase for consumers, many of whom are small business owners themselves, such as local fishing tour operators or boat rental companies.
The impact will not stop at the industry level. The downstream effects will flow into the lives of everyday South Carolinians who enjoy or aspire to take part in boating or fishing. Whether it’s a family looking to purchase their first boat or an individual wanting to take up fishing as a hobby – the cost barrier imposed by CBAT will make these dreams unattainable for many.
Furthermore, increased costs for boats will also mean higher rental fees, diminishing access to our beautiful waters for tourists and locals alike. The resulting decline in boating and fishing tourism could have a cascading effect on other related sectors like local restaurants, lodging, and retail, all of which depend on the dollars spent by those drawn to our state’s natural allure.
Still, members of Congress, have expressed support for the proposal. While the risks are known, advocates of the carbon border tax seem committed to putting their agenda first.
Instead of adopting a punitive tax structure, let’s chart a course that promotes responsible stewardship of our environment without throwing our treasured industries overboard. Let’s invest in research and development that drives sustainable practices within the boating and fishing sectors. Let’s work with industries and local communities to develop targeted strategies that move us towards a greener future without sinking the very people we seek to protect.
In South Carolina, our waters are more than just scenic vistas; they are our heritage and our future. Let’s navigate these troubled waters together, ensuring that our boating and fishing industries remain vibrant and accessible to all who call our beautiful state home.
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