Friday, September 28, 2007

Ballast Water Battle

On Thursday, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida) pledged to fight a ballast water permitting scheme that has been much maligned by many in the boating community. In a U.S. District Court case last fall, several environmental groups successfully argued in that ballast water should be government regulated, due to the fact that it introduces non-native species into the water. The ruling was intended to target big, commercial vessels that use and expel large amounts of ballast water. However, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, "The court's ruling also includes boat engine cooling water, bilge water, gray water and common deck runoff—none of which was considered by the court, as the case focused solely on commercial ship ballast water." They add, "The court has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a new, complex and costly permitting scheme for the nation's estimated 18 million boats by September 2008."

Boxer and Nelson share a strong belief that recreational boaters should be exempt from such permitting, and are dedicated to resolving the issue before the 2008 deadline. The senators’ commitment has met with great support from many boating groups, and the NMMA has thrown its hat into the ring. "NMMA, leading a collation of boating and outdoor recreation partners, has created a grassroots website to mobilize the boating community on the ballast water permitting issue," the association said in a recent press release, "It's estimated spending by recreational boaters is responsible for some 855,000 U.S. jobs." For further information from the NMMA and BoatUS, check out BoatBlue.

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