On July 29, President Bush signed into law H.R. 5949/S.2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008, protecting the more than 17 million recreational boats throughout the U.S. from unprecedented and unnecessary federal regulations. Congress passed the Clean Boating Act on July 22, 2008.
The signing of the bill permanently and fully restores a longstanding, commonsense 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 Clean Boating Act of 2008 will prevent federal and state permitting of water-based, non-polluting incidental discharges that occur in the normal operation of a recreational boat, such as weather deck run-off and engine coolant water.
“The recreational marine industry and boaters throughout the United States can now rest easy and go boating without a federal or state permit, heavy penalties and absurd legal jeopardy,” said Scott Gudes, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) vice president of government relations. “We applaud President Bush and Congress for their bipartisan efforts to reverse the unintended and potentially devastating consequences of an overbroad federal court decision.”
This new regulation, which would have become law on Oct. 1, 2008, had Congress and the President not acted, was the result of a federal court decision in a case focused on commercial ship ballast water. The unintended consequence of the decision would have meant that recreational boaters and other vessel operators would be required to follow a multitude of new rules and regulations and been exposed to fines and citizen lawsuits.
Congress also passed H.R. 6556/S. 3278, legislation to provide a moratorium on permitting for commercial vessel discharges until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes a review of certain incidental discharges. NMMA has sent comments to the EPA informing the agency it must rescind all draft permits for recreational boats.
NMMA and Boat U.S., along with more than 60 partners in the Boat Blue Coalition, led the charge to attain passage of the Clean Boating Act of 2008. It’s an historic victory for NMMA’s 1,700 member companies and for boaters and anglers nationwide.