Yesterday, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) hailed the passage of H.R. 5949/S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008, in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Passage of this legislation, which has been the top legislative priority for NMMA during the 110th Congress, will permanently and fully restore a longstanding, commonsense regulation that excludes recreational boaters and anglers from the federal and state permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act designed for land-based industrial facilities and ocean-going commercial ships.
Introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the Senate and by Representatives Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Candice Miller (R-Mich.) in the House, the Clean Boating Act of 2008 will prevent federal and state permitting of water-based, non-polluting incidental discharges that occur in the normal operation of a recreational boat, such as weather deck run-off and engine coolant water.
"The Senate and House have acted swiftly, and we appreciate the bipartisan nature of their action to protect the recreational marine industry, the American boating public and our natural resources. This is an historic victory for our 1,700 members and for boaters across the nation who just love being out on the water unencumbered by unnecessary government red tape and significant legal jeopardy," said Scott Gudes, NMMA vice president of government relations. "Congress has acted decisively to keep boating fun, safe and simple."
This new regulation, set to become law on October 1, 2008 if Congress had not acted, was the result of an overbroad federal court decision in a case focused on commercial ship ballast water. The unintended consequence of the decision would have meant that recreational boaters and other vessel operators would be required to follow a multitude of new rules and regulations and been exposed to fines (up to $32,500 per day, per violation) and citizen lawsuits.
"Both the House and Senate have sent a positive message to the nation's 73 million boaters through the passage of these critical pieces of legislation" noted NMMA president, Thom Dammrich. "After a long road on Capitol Hill, the bill is now ready for the President's signature into law. We encourage the President to act fast in signing this bill to stave off unprecedented and unnecessary new regulations on America's boaters and anglers."
Passage of the Clean Boating Act, a genuine bipartisan, good-government bill, was made possible by a large number of committed legislators on both sides of the political aisle. NMMA extends its special thanks to Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and all of the 39 cosponsors of the bill in the Senate. In the House, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla.), Representatives Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) and all the many cosponsors of the bill are to be thanked and congratulated for their hard work and skillful leadership.
At the same time it passed the Clean Boating Act, Congress also passed H.R. 6556/S. 3278, legislation to provide a moratorium on permitting for commercial vessel discharges until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes a review of certain incidental discharges. This legislation was the product of extensive negotiations between Senators Murkowski, Boxer, Nelson and Murray as well as Representatives Oberstar, Taylor and others. NMMA congratulates these Members of Congress on achieving this consensus measure to provide relief for commercial craft.
NMMA and BoatU.S., along with more than 60 partners in the Boat Blue Coalition, led the charge to attain passage of the Clean Boating Act of 2008.