Congress passes Clean Boating Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed 5949/S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008 earlier this week, permanently and fully restoring what the National Marine Manufacturers Association referred to as a “longstanding, commonsense regulation” that excludes recreational boaters and anglers from the federal and state permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

Passage of this legislation has been the top legislative priority for NMMA during the 110th Congress.

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,” says Scott Gudes, NMMA vice president of government relations. “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. 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. It had originally been designed for land-based industrial facilities and ocean-going commercial ships. The unintended consequence of the decision, according to NMMA, 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” said 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.”

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 completes a review of certain incidental discharges.

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