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EPA Permit Proposal Threatens Recreational Boaters
Posted on 07/07/2008
NMMA reinforces need for boaters, industry to take action June 17, 2008 – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Clean Water Act proposal in the Federal Register that will impose new requirements on recreational boaters to learn about and follow specific practices mandated by the federal government to operate their boats and manage their everyday, overboard water discharges. Mandated by a court order in 2006 that focused exclusively on commercial vessel ballast water, the proposal includes two draft permits that are an unprecedented, new regulation on American recreational boaters, demonstrating the urgent need to pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S. 2766 and H. R. 5949) as these new regulations will take effect on October 1, 2008. Along with the Federal Register notice, EPA also released two draft permits, fact sheets and multiple additional supplementary documents, all of which add up to a confusing mess for boaters. EPA’s Clean Water Act proposal unnecessarily creates a cumbersome, complex and confusing permitting scheme for recreational boaters, throwing them into a regulatory regime designed for land-based industrial facilities like sewer treatment plants. As a result, America’s 18 million recreational boat owners will be required to observe a multitude of new rules and practices, yet they won’t be provided clear information as to how to comply with these new federal requirements by EPA, exposing them to a high degree of regulatory uncertainty, compliance issues and legal jeopardy involving citizen lawsuits and $32,500 per violation per day penalties. The EPA proposal also allows individual states to implement their own boating permits, creating the potential for mass confusion with a patchwork of differing state-by-state laws for boaters. Equally problematic is that recreational boats above a certain length will be categorized as commercial ships and will be required to follow a different and more complex set of permit rules applicable to commercial vessels. There are two proposed general EPA permits: One for boats under 79 feet, and another for recreational boats 80 feet and above. This second permit, which also encompasses commercial ships, is even more complicated and makes an arbitrary and unreasonable distinction among recreational boats based on footage in order to classify them as commercial boats. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we unite—as an industry and as boating enthusiasts—and compel Congress to pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “Boaters everywhere must reach out to their state and local representatives and ask that they support this key piece of legislation.” NMMA and BoatU.S., along with a broad coalition of partners, are leading the charge to prevent this unnecessary new regulation on America’s boaters. “Congress must pass the Clean Boating Act before it’s too late and the federal government steps in to regulate how average Americans enjoy a day on the water,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of NMMA Government Relations. “These new regulations are the poster child for excessive regulation, and we’re calling on the boating industry and America’s boaters who cherish their time on the water to act today and get commonsense legislative relief passed in the form of the Clean Boating Act.” “We only have until September 30, 2008 to accomplish this goal; time is running out for Congress to do the right thing,” Gudes continued. For the new regulations affecting 18 million boat owners nationwide, EPA will hold a total of four public meetings during the workday—in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Portland—to hear from boaters and the boating industry on this new regulation. NMMA strongly encourages people who care about boating to attend these meetings and share their views on why they should not be exposed to the requirements and legal jeopardy this new permit program will entail. For specific dates and locations of these meetings, please visit The boating industry and recreational boaters who want to take action to prevent this new regulatory proposal from becoming law should visit and take just a few minutes to send a message to their Representatives and Senators, urging them to support recreational boating and pass the Clean Boating Act of 2008. For more information about the Clean Boating Act of 2008, visit or contact Mathew Dunn at (202) 737-9760; About the Clean Boating Act of 2008: The Clean Boating Act of 2008 would fully and permanently restore a long-standing regulation that excludes recreational boaters and anglers from the federal and state permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act designed for land-based industrial facilities and ocean-going commercial ships. The exemption was overturned by a federal court in 2006 in a case focused exclusively on ballast water from commercial vessels. The Clean Boating Act of 2008 has the support of the $36 billion recreational marine industry, the nation’s 59 million adult recreational boaters and more than 50 organizations involved in outdoor recreation, sportfishing, hunting and conservation. About NMMA: National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters in the United States. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy, market research and data, product quality assurance and marketing communications. Source: Date: June 17, 2008 Contact: Kelly Kaylor,