Everyone needs to write something to someone, if not many letters. We sent ours, thank for bringing this to the spotlight here...
Everyone needs to write something to someone, if not many letters. We sent ours, thank for bringing this to the spotlight here...
Got this in my email today...
June 11, 2008
Mr. Chris Splendoria
Dear Mr. Splendoria:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about proposed regulatory changes that may impact recreational boating. I appreciate hearing from you.
In September 2006, a California District Court ruled that boats were subject to regulation for the incidental discharge of pollutants under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Under Section 404, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates a system of discharge permits known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). In the past, the EPA applied NPDES regulations to land-based sources of water pollution, such as sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities, but exempted commercial and recreational vessels from the permit process.
The suit that led to the ruling dealt specifically with the discharge of ballast water by commercial ships. Commercial vessels often take on significant amounts of water for the purpose of maintaining stability. This ballast water, which is pumped out of the ship during its voyage or at its destination, can contain exotic species that drive out native wildlife and upset the natural balance of a local ecosystem. The EPA estimates that 30 percent of invasive species have been introduced in the Great Lakes through ballast water. For example, the release of ballast water is thought to be responsible for the local invasion of zebra mussels.
The court's ruling extended NPDES regulations more broadly to all vessels and any incidental discharge of pollutants. The EPA has expressed concern over the court's decision, citing serious obstacles to monitoring and enforcing these newly applied regulations. One potential problem raised by the agency is that NPDES permit requirements differ from state to state. Many boaters travel in waters off the coasts of multiple states and would be forced to apply for multiple discharge permits.
We should address the issue of ballast water and the introduction of aquatic invasive species. Any new regulations, however, should seek to avoid any unfair or unnecessary burdens on recreational boaters.
The Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S. 2766) would exempt recreational vessels, including charter boats, from the requirements of the NPDES permit process. In addition, the measure lays out a three-year framework to determine if discharge management practices should be required of recreational boats.
The Clean Boating Act has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. I am not a member of this committee, but I will keep your support for S. 2766 in mind in case the bill is brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator
P.S. If you are ever visiting Washington, please feel free to join me and other members of the Illinois Congressional delegation at our weekly constituent coffee. When the Senate is in session, we provide coffee and donuts every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. as we hear what is on the minds of Illinoisans and respond to your questions. We would welcome your participation. Please call my D.C. office for more details.
Boat Test www.boattest.com
Mandated by Congress 35 years ago to regulate ship ballast discharge, the EPA now plans to micro-manage how Americans use their boats – right down to “pack food in reusable containers to minimize waste.” Welcome to the “Brave New World” of Boating.
We urge to write your Senators and Congressmen today to support EPA Permit relief legislation. To contact them an easy way, click here…
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Clean Water Act proposal in the Federal Register that will impose new requirements on recreational boaters.
Mandated by a court order in 2006 that focused exclusively on commercial vessel ballast water, the “proposed” rules include unprecedented, new regulations 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 September 30 at 11:59pm.
No Fee or Paperwork
In the beginning there will be no fees for permits, indeed there will be no “permits” as such at all, according to the 15-page “General Permit” rules. Instead, boaters will be granted blanket approval – so long as they obey the EPA rules. To our knowledge, this is the first time the EPA has granted a “General Permit” without requiring the subject of the regulation to file in order to qualify. Failure to obey the rules can lead to “permit” suspension and fines, mandated by Congress to be no higher than $32,500 per day. The fines, indeed the whole act itself, was never intended to be directed solely to boaters, rather to big business and cities who thought they were above the law.
The original Clean Water Act passed by Congress 35 years ago was designed to regulate serious polluters of American waterways including municipal sewage plants, chemical factories and waste dumps like the notorious Love Canal.
Fees Coming Later?
An EPA “Fact Sheet” says that the cost of administering the regulations will be $88 million annually, which can be recovered with a “compliance cost per permittee from $8.79 to $25.99 per year for motorboats.” The EPA says this fee will have “a minimal impact on all entities.”
EPA’s “Stealth” Strategy is Clever
Observers familiar with environment legislation are calling this “paperless permit” approach of the EPA a “clever” way to get laws codified without incurring the wrath of America’s 18 million boat owners. Once the EPA has weathered the storm of protest and criticism at the outset, these people say, the EPA will likely then promulgate more stringent regulations as time goes on, with or without fees and paper. In fact laws already on the books state that no subsequent regulations can be less stringent than the current ones. American boaters are now squarely in the same regulatory scheme as municipalities and corporations.
These same sources (including one environmental lawyer) tell us that soon any state that wishes can ask to set its own rules for boating permits, and then fees and paperwork are sure to follow. Boaters are sitting ducks for what will amount to an extra boating tax, in addition to state registration fees.
Statement from the NMMA
The National Marine Manufacturers’ Association (NMMA) issued a press release yesterday afternoon saying, “The 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.”
States Can and Likely Will Get Involved
“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,” says the NMMA.
NMMA President Dammrich
“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, NMMA. “Boaters everywhere must reach out to their state and local representatives and ask that they support this key piece of legislation.”
BoatTEST.com’s Take on the EPA Rules
We find the EPA “General Permit” requirements an unholy stew of marina and boat maintenance “best practices,” common sense codified, incredible government intrusion, nonsense, and chilling possibilities. We think that these rules, while seemly simple “best practices” can be a Trojan Horse of increasingly annoying and needless regulations. Needless, because the amount of pollution of any type caused by recreational boats is a drop in the bucket compared to one bad rainstorm and an overflowing sewage treatment plant in Greenwich, CT, or the spraying of toxic chemicals along the coast to kill mosquitoes. Allowing the states to control environmental permitting for boats is a made-to-order new tax revenue scheme that many states hungry for cash will undoubtedly jump on, in our opinion.
Noteworthy for one reason or another are these passages extracted from the “Rules”--
• 1.6 Compliance
o “Noncompliance with the requirements of this permit constitutes a violation…each day a violation continues…” you can be fined up to $32,500.
• 2.1.3 Trash Management
o “All vessels must have appropriate receptacles for disposing trash…with secure lids.”
o “Prevent any trash or garbage, including food waste, cigarette butts…from entering any waste system.”
o “Secure loose items on deck…”
o “Do not dispose of fishing waste overboard while in a harbor or marina.”
• 2.1.7 Graywater
o “Minimize graywater discharges…”
o “Oils used in cooking may not be added to the graywater system or into any other discharge…”
3. Encouraged Best Management Practices
* “When possible use restrooms, showers…on shore.”
* "If possible, store graywater for…disposal on shore”
* "Use all soaps and cleaners sparingly.”
* "Purchase food in bio-degradable…packaging.”
* "Pack food in reusable containers…”
* "Use onshore fish cleaning station…”
* "Consider hiring a qualified, professional hull cleaner…”
* "Regularly scrub your deck with tap water and a soft brush…”
4.3 Duty to Provide Information
“The Director may request any information required to determine whether cause exists for…terminating this permit…” “You must provide any requested information…”
4.4 Inspection and Entry
“The vessel owner or operator shall allow EPA or any authorized representative to:
1. Inspect any vessel…and,
2. Sample or monitor…any substances or parameters at any location.”
BoatTEST.com pleads guilty to being old fashioned and persisting in our belief that the 4th Amendment (no unreasonable search or seizure) to the Constitution is still in force, the U.S. Coast Guard’s right to board notwithstanding. Congress did not intend for the Clean Water Act to be used against American recreational boaters, in our opinion. For that reason we feel it is imperative for Congress to set this matter to rights with S. 2766 and H.R. 5949.
To read the 15-page EPA rules document, click here for a pdf file…
To read the 45-page explanation of the rules document, click here for a pdf file…
Call to Action
To contact your Senator and Congressmen, click here… (If you are short of time, BoatTEST recommends that the above contact will be your most effect method to get action.)
To express your comments on the “proposed” rule making directly to the EPA, you can use several methods:
1. Go to their website and register your comments.
Once in the system, click on “search” and then key in Docket ID No.EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0056.
2. E-Mail the EPA.
Its email address for this matter is: [email protected]. Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0056. (FYI—Your email address will become part of the public record.)
3. By Snail Mail
Water Docket, EPA, Mailcode: 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0056.
Tips for Preparing your Comments:
1. Explain why you disagree with the provisions. Suggest alternatives.
2. Estimate potential costs or burdens and explain how you arrives at that figure.
3. Provide specific examples that illustrate your concerns.
4. Explain your views clearly.
5. Submit your comments by July 30, 2008.
To make your comments known to the marine industry and other BoatTEST members, use the comment box below. BoatTEST will publish these comments in future issues.
OSO's unofficial I.T. consultant :D
What does Obama's response say? How about McCain's?
For all the "hate the EPA" propaganda, they're not the bad guys here. They're doing what the 2006 court decision mandates they do. Sounds like they did a decent job of CYA; they've got a proposed "permit" plan which meets the court's demands, and they managed to make it minimal impact to rec boaters.
Let Obama and non-boat friendly Dems run the country, expect fees/taxes. I'd bet McCain's administration and/or a Rep controlled Congress would just let the EPA go unfunded for the program.
Thank you for writing to me about recreational boating. I appreciate hearing from you.
I am pleased to inform you that on May 21, 2008, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) unanimously approved the Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S.2766). As Chairman of the EPW Committee, I proudly joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in introducing this bill to establish measures that ensure the protection of water quality while minimizing any burdens for recreational boaters under the Clean Water Act.
The Clean Boating Act makes it clear that recreational boaters will not have to get a permit under the Clean Water Act, while also requiring the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard to develop management practices, outside of any permitting programs, to assist boaters in minimizing adverse pollution impacts. By helping boaters to maintain and improve water quality, the boating experience can be enhanced for all users.
In developing this bill, I worked closely with boat user groups and recreational boat manufacturers to meet the needs of boaters and our mutual goal of clean water.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is leading the efforts on behalf of boaters everywhere, said, "This legislation takes a balanced approach which protects the American marine manufacturing sector, boaters and anglers, and the nation's aquatic resources."
Rest assured that I will continue working with my colleagues to see that Congress passes this legislation to protect recreational boaters and improve water quality.
Again, thank you for writing to me. Please feel free to write to me in the future about this or any other issue of concern to you.
United States Senator
It's starting to look like common sense has won out. Not 100%, but my info tells me it's going to pass in our favor.
Ok, anybody in Alaska?
One Senator Prevents Unanimous Vote to Pass Clean Boating Act
On Thursday, June 26, before Congress adjourned for its week-long July 4 holiday recess, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the primary sponsor of the Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S. 2766), requested an expedited Senate voting procedure that would have allowed the legislation to pass by Unanimous Consent in the Senate.
In order for a bill to pass in this manner, no Senators can object. Unfortunately, Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) did voice an objection, arguing the bill should be expanded to include some commercial vessels and filed an amendment to do so. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), an original co-sponsor of the bill along with Nelson, objected to Murkowski's proposed amendment, arguing the bill was the product of delicate compromise.
NMMA is hopeful that common sense will prevail and that relief for recreational boaters can be achieved before the imminent September 30, 2008 deadline.
Anyone and everyone that cares about boating is urged to contact their elected officials and plead for them to move forward with passage of S. 2766 quickly!
Please visit BoatBlue.org today and send your Senators and Representatives a loud and clear message that you want this bill passed!
DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE; ACT TODAY!
A live webcast is taking place tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, July 2, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. EDT. Everyone that cares about boating is encouraged to participate in this free, online discussion; all that's required is a quick and simple registration!
CLICK HERE to register for the July 2 live webcast!
For more information about the Clean Boating Act of 2008, visit BoatBlue.org or contact Mat Dunn at (202) 737-9760; [email protected].
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