A newly introduced Senate bill, "The Clean Boating Act of 2008" (S. 2766) promises to be practical solution to a looming permit deadline for recreational boaters, anglers, and charter boats.
Because of a lawsuit targeting ocean-going commercial vessels carrying ballast water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to implement an "operational discharge permit" for all vessels in the United States - including recreational boats - by September 30, 2008. Without a change in law, all boaters will need to obtain this permit, as early as this summer.
However, with a possible Senate vote in the next few months, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) is urging recreational boaters to quickly contact their Senate and House legislators to support The Clean Boating Act of 2008.
S. 2766 was introduced on Thursday, March 13 by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). It follows two bills originally introduced in the spring and fall of 2007 as "The Recreational Boating Act of 2007" (H.R. 2550/S. 2067) by Representatives Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) and Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).
"Sens. Boxer and Nelson's bill now has the best chance of gaining widespread political support. As a result, we need every boater, every angler, and anyone who uses a boat to contact their senators and representatives to ask for their support of this bill," said BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich.
"S. 2766 recognizes the fact that normal operational discharges from recreational boats, such as engine cooling water or deck runoff from rain, should not be viewed under the Clean Water Act as being similar to a commercial ship's ballast water," said Podlich. "This bill does not weaken any existing environmental laws restricting the overboard discharge of oil, fuel, garbage, or sewage."
S. 2766 also requires the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard to investigate the need for potential management practices for some recreational boat discharges over the next three years. Each step in this development process will include a public comment period and be subject to "reasonable and practical" criterion.
"BoatU.S. has been working with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and other groups to seek a viable recreational boating solution to the upcoming September permit deadline. We appreciate the leadership shown by members of Congress who understand that applying a new permit to recreational boating will not accomplish anything tangible, and will only create a new unnecessary bureaucracy, " added Podlich.