WASHINGTON — Legislation has been introduced to protect anglers and other recreational boaters from a bureaucratic nightmare.In 1973, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized that subjecting recreational boaters to the complex permitting requirements in the Clean Water Act would be costly and unnecessary. Instead, those regulations were directed as large point-source polluters, including cruise ships, cargo ships and supertankers.
But a U.S. District Court ruling last fall nullified that exemption that included cooling water, bilge water, and even deck runoff that occur in the normal operation of bass boats and other small craft. Also, the court directed the EPA to rewrite the regulation by September 2008.The decision grew out of the larger issue of stopping commercial ships from introducing invasive species into U.S. waters in ballast water discharges.
The Recreational Boating Act of 2007 (H.R. 2550), introduced by representatives Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Candice Miller of Michigan, is a response to that action.
"If left unfixed, boaters will face onerous permitting regulations that increase the cost and lessen the enjoyment of boating for a regulation really intended to regulate and control a ballast water tank that their boats don't even have," said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
"Moreover, vessels are already well-regulated under the Clean Vessel Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Clean Water Act. There isn't a need for an additional layer of permitting and regulation for recreational boats …
"Now it's time for Congress to act before the September 2008 deadline and pass this bill."
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