Friday, July 25, 2008

Clean Boating Act Approved

Good news: Earlier this week both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the Clean Boating Act, to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from instituting regulations that would result in hefty fines for recreational boaters of all kinds, even kayakers.

For 35 years recreational and commercial boats alike have been exempt from permits covering normal overboard water discharge—things like washdown and runoff water. But a few years ago, a few states sued to overturn the exemption because of ballast-water discharges releasing harmful species into local waters. They won in federal court, and as a result the EPA will be required to start enforcing permit regulations come September 30. (If you're interested in reading the permit proposals, click here.) Vessels less than 79 feet will be required to have one type of permit, while vessels 80 feet and larger will need a different permit. Unfortunately, those regulations don't distinguish recreational boats from commercial ones, even though ballast-tank-equipped vessels aren't the same as runabouts, sportfishermen, and yachts. (And yes, kayaks were included in the regulations—canoes and PWCs as well.)

Thankfully, several Congressmen and Congresswomen recognized this just didn't make sense and sponsored the Clean Boating Act bill. As Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York who cosponsored the bill, said to a group of boaters in the Finger Lakes, "It's time to toss this ill-advised regulation overboard."

Next step: getting President George Bush's signature. Considering he's an active boater, as is his father, here's hoping he picks up his pen soon.

To follow further developments and read more about how the bill and regulations came about, visit BoatBlue.

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