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Cutting through the nautical red tape

Last Thursday, legislation was put forth by U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) that stated recreational boaters and anglers would not need a federal permit to operate their boats, according to a report by National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

Called The Clean Boating Act of 2008, Boxer and Nelson restore a 35-year-old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exemption for water based, non-polluting incidental discharges that occur in the normal operation of a recreational boat. The legislation recognizes that discharges such as engine coolant water from a pleasure boat are completely different from commercial ship discharges, especially since most run on an average of 31 days per year, according to the report.

Recreational boats are already regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, the Clean Vessel Act, and the Oil Pollution Act, to name a few. Had the legislation stayed in place, boaters would have been required to apply for the same expensive permits as ocean-going commercial vessels and land-based industrial facilities, according to Scott Gudes, vice president of government relations for NMMA.

NMMA has been working with other stakeholders such as Boat U.S. to resolve this problem and applauds the efforts of Boxer and Nelson. The legislation is now in the hands of Congress, who must make a decision on this application before September 2008.

- Elizabeth Ellis