Law exempts boaters from tough EPA permit requirements.
LOG NEWS SERVICE
” In a significant victory for the nation's 13 million registered recreational boat owners, President George W. Bush on July 29 signed into law the Clean Boating Act of 2008, which permanently restores the long-standing exemption for recreational boats from permitting requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.
Photo by: Chris Greenburg/White House photo
Sign of Relief
President George W. Bush signed the Clean Boating Act of 2008
into law aboard Air Force One, as Rep. Steven LaTourette (left)
and Rep. Patrick Tiberi looked on.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced the legislation, S. 2766, in March with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., as lead co-sponsor. The measure, which had 38 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, won unanimous passage in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Nelson said that the measure was needed because the courts had ruled that the wording of an old federal clean-water law applied not just to huge boats and tankers, as Congress had intended, but to tiny fishing and skiing boats as well.
"This was a matter of common sense," Nelson said. "Imagine: the federal government applying measures that cover big tankers to millions of little boats."
Passage of the measure came just in time. Fines were to go into effect by Sept. 30. Under the proposed government rules, boat owners could have faced inspections and fines of up to $32,500 per day for allowing deck water and incidental spills to go overboard.
Boxer, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works played a key role in getting the legislation through the Senate.
The Clean Boating Act provides a balanced approach, protecting our waters from pollution while minimizing the burden on recreational boaters. Now that the president has signed it into law, the Clean Boating Act will ensure that our lakes, rivers and seashores are protected and that millions of recreational boaters in California and across America can continue enjoy our nation's waterways," Boxer said.
"NMMA raised the alarm on the misguided court decision nearly two years ago, and we are thrilled that Congress and the president have prevented the bureaucratic nightmare that was set to become law," said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
"NMMA thanks all of its partners in the Boat Blue Coalition, including BoatU.S.," said Scott Gudes, NMMA vice president of government relations. "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."
"The real success of this campaign rests squarely on the shoulders of this country's millions of recreational boaters and anglers," said Margaret Podlich, BoatU.S. vice president of government affairs. "Without their loud collective voice, we would not have reached this momentous event."
More than 925 boaters sent messages to their representatives in favor of the Clean Boating Act
In addition to signing the legislation for recreational boaters, Bush on July 31 signed a separate measure (S. 3298) authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, establishing a two-year moratorium on incidental discharge permits for commercial fishing vessels and for all other commercial boats less than 79 feet while the Environmental Protection Agency conducts an environmental impact study on vessel discharges.