House committee passes Clean Boating Act of 2008

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association says it applauds the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee for approving approved H.R. 5949, the Clean Boating Act of 2008, that will ensure recreational boaters and anglers – including un-inspected charter fishing boats – will not need federal permits to operate their boats.

The T&I Committee, chaired by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), approved H.R. 5949 by voice vote, paving the way for its consideration by the full House of Representatives. The legislation was introduced by Representatives Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Candice Miller (R-Mich.), co-chair of the House Boating Caucus.

“The Clean Boating Act is a bipartisan, good government solution to a looming administrative and legal crisis for boaters across America,” Scott Gudes, NMMA vice president of Government Relations, said in a press release. “Congress’ work is far from over. We now strongly urge the full House and the United States Senate—where identical legislation has 33 bipartisan sponsors—to quickly pass this legislation and send it to the President for signature into law well in advance of the September 2008 permitting deadline.”

H.R. 5949 is identical to S. 2766, Senate legislation introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that now has 32 bipartisan cosponsors. S. 2766 is pending before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, which Sen. Boxer chairs.

The Clean Boating Act would fully and permanently restore a longstanding 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. This exemption was overturned by a federal court in 2006 in a case focused exclusively on ballast water from commercial vessels.

The Clean Boating Act has the support of the $37 billion recreational marine industry, the nation’s 59 million adult recreational boaters and more than 50 organizations involved in outdoor recreation, sportfishing, hunting and conservation.

Chairman Oberstar pledged to soon hold a hearing on commercial vessel discharges and work on separate legislation dealing with non-recreational vessels, which he said was a more complicated issue. Oberstar urged his colleagues on the Committee to move the Clean Boating Act in a way that eases its path toward quick enactment into law.

“The Committee has done good work in passing this legislation,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Now it is time for Congress to swiftly pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008 to not only preserve one of America’s favorite ways to enjoy the great outdoors, but also the American marine manufacturing industry that provides hundreds of thousands jobs in this country. America’s boaters want to protect our natural resources and deserve to enjoy the outdoors without federal red tape and excessive legal jeopardy.”

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