Congress has restored a 35-year exemption for recreational boats from proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements by passing S 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. The act received bipartisan support from both the House and Senate.
The new legislation is in response to a U.S. District Court decision in September 2006 under which an estimated 17 million recreational boats would have fallen under Clean Water Act permit requirements effective September 30, 2008. The permit would have imposed strict maintenance and operational procedures and potentially subjected recreational boaters to penalties previously reserved for serious industrial polluters. A longstanding EPA policy had exempted recreational boaters from these Clean Water Act rules.
Passage of S 2766 is not only a victory for all boaters who ran the risk of severe penalties and an administrative quagmire from minor discharges, but also for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and BoatUS and its nearly 650,000 members. Legislators clearly responded favorably to their lobbying efforts. “This is a fabulous victory for common sense and it just goes to show what can be done when the boating public, the marine industry and its representatives in Congress row together in a bipartisan way,” said Nancy Michelman, president of BoatUS.
Key legislators who supported the bill included Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); and Reps. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and Gene Taylor (D-Miss).
Scott Gudes, NMMA vice president of government relations said, “Passage of this legislation is a testament to what is possible when our community joins forces and speaks with one voice before key decision makers.”
President Bush signed the act into law in July.