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Pleasure boaters (almost) off the hook

On July 22, the U.S. House and the Senate passed the “Clean Boating Act of 2008,” which will permanently restore a long-standing exemption from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act, according to recent press release. The bill now requires the signature of President Bush.

“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 BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman in the report.

A U.S. District Court decision in September 2006 requires some 17 million recreational boats to obtain Clean Water Act permits as of Sept. 30, 2008, which spurred congressional action. Recreational boats would have been subjected to the same maintenance and operation procedures as commercial vessels, leaving them open to potential citizen lawsuits and a penalty system designed for industrial polluters, according to the report.

BoatU.S., the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), and a coalition of stakeholders worked together to see this issue resolved before the September deadline, in addition to a myriad of letters and e-mails from boaters and anglers over the past year.

- Elizabeth Ellis