Sailing Industry Asked to Support the Clean Boating Act of 2008
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is asking Sail America members to take action immediately to support S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008 in Congress to preserve recreational boating and protect the environment. The following article outlines the background, impact and proposed solution through new Congressional legislation.
In 1973, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized that it would be unnecessary for recreational boaters to be subject to complex federal and state permitting requirements designed for large point source polluters, such as wastewater treatment plants, cruise ships, cargo ships, and supertankers. EPA thus issued a commonsense exemption.
In Sept. 2006, however, a U.S. District Court ruling nullified this EPA regulation, ruling that the Agency did not have the authority the issue it. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought to halt the introduction of invasive species into U.S. waters through the discharge of ballast water from large, ocean-going commercial ships.
The decision, however, was a major blow to recreational boating. Included under the exemption the court nullified were incidental discharges from recreational boats, including engine cooling water, gray water, uncontaminated bilge water, and weather deck runoff, among others. As a result of this broad decision, all recreational boat operators in the nation will have to obtain a federal or state permit by September 2008. Minimizing the exchange of ballast water from one international port to another is very important in reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species, but neither Congress nor EPA intended to sweep pleasure boats into same regulatory scheme. Doing so would have a devastating effect on recreational boating in America.
Unless Congressional action is taken soon, every recreational boat owner in the country – 18 million strong and growing – will be subject to an unprecedented permitting system for everyday discharges associated with the normal operation of a boat. The threat is imminent. EPA has already completed the first phase of this new regulation and is moving to implement this permitting system for pleasure boaters by the court-ordered September 2008 deadline. This burdensome permitting will lead to:
- New yearly fees for family boaters;
- Bureaucratic red tape—potentially different in each state—associated with getting a permit;
- An increased burden for the taxpayer because federal and state governments will be required to develop new government programs and entities to implement these regulations;
- New enforcement regimes, $32,000 per day penalties and citizen suits.
Congress should enact S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. This legislation first introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ensures recreational boaters and anglers will not need
a federal permit to operate their boats, and restores 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.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced April 10 that a bipartisan, geographically diverse group of 17 U.S. Senators has co-sponsored The Clean Boating Act of 2008.
The new Senators co-sponsoring the legislation are: David Vitter (R-La.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)
NMMA is working with a broad coalition of stakeholders, including Boat U.S., to resolve this problem in advance of the permitting deadline.
For further information about the Clean Boating Act of 2008, please visit www.boatblue.org. To write your Senators, click on www.boatblue.org and then click on the link at the bottom of the page (Tell Congress to pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008.) and then click Take Action - the letter is written for you, so all you have to do is add you contact info.