EPA releases boat permit proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency published the Clean Water Act proposal in the Federal Register that will impose new requirements on recreational boaters to learn about and follow specific practices mandated by the federal government to operate their boats and manage their everyday, overboard water discharges, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported in a statement this morning.

Along with the Federal Register notice, EPA released two draft permits, fact sheets and multiple additional supplementary documents, NMMA reported.

One of the proposed general EPA permits is for boats under 79 feet, and the other is for recreational boats 80 feet and above. This second permit also encompasses commercial ships. The NMMA described the second permit as “even more complicated” and said it “makes an arbitrary and unreasonable distinction among recreational boats based on footage in order to classify them as commercial boats.”

The release of the proposal demonstrates “the urgent need to pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S. 2766 and H. R. 5949),” according to NMMA. Without the passage of new legislation, these new regulations will take effect on Oct. 1.

The EPA proposal allows individual states to implement their own boating permits, which NMMA said creates the potential for mass confusion with a patchwork of differing state-by-state laws for boaters.

If put into place, EPA’s Clean Water Act proposal will expose boaters to “a high degree of regulatory uncertainty, compliance issues and legal jeopardy involving citizen lawsuits and $32,500 per violation per day penalties,” NMMA added.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we unite — as an industry and as boating enthusiasts — and compel Congress to pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Boaters everywhere must reach out to their state and local representatives and ask that they support this key piece of legislation.”

For the new regulations, EPA will hold a total of four public meetings during the workday — in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Portland — to hear from boaters and the boating industry on this new regulation. NMMA said it strongly encourages people who care about boating to attend these meetings and share their views on why they should not be exposed to the requirements and legal jeopardy this new permit program will entail. For specific dates and locations of these meetings, visit BoatBlue.org.

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