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Glenn

DRAFT EPA PERMIT OPENS PANDORA'S BOX

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 1, 2008 - In response to a federal court order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a draft permit for millions of recreational vessels for "normal operational discharges" that could open a Pandora's box of compliance problems and unfairly subject recreational boaters - including those who own canoes and kayaks - to potential nuisance lawsuits.

The EPA draft puts boaters and anglers squarely under new Clean Water Act regulations that go into effect September 30, 2008. The permit requires boaters to comply with a set of worrisome national requirements as well as additional state requirements "to be determined." Penalties carry up to a $32,500 daily fine for each violation.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) is urging all boaters and anglers to contact their federal lawmakers to bring corrective legislation to the Senate and House floor for a full vote as soon as possible. The Clean Boating Act of 2008 - S. 2766 in the Senate and H.R. 5949 in the House of Representatives - would restore the federal exemption for recreational vessels for "normal operational discharges" that has been in existence for the past 35 years until the federal courts recently determined otherwise.

"Boaters want clean waters and want to do their fair share, but the draft EPA permit unfairly burdens them with needless regulation," said BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. "The federal courts required EPA to draft a permitting regime that puts individual boaters under the same penalty system as corporate industries even though discharges from a rowing dinghy or motor boat are quite different than those from a large commercial ship with ballast water," said Podlich.

The draft permit would allow the EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard, a state authority or some private contractor to inspect a boat and take discharge samples. If requested, a boater would be required to provide such government officials with information to determine permit compliance.

"What may appear quite simple on the surface will be anything but in reality," said Podlich. "What happens if a neighbor - who perhaps may not appreciate boats - decides that you use too much biodegradable soap to wash your boat, witnesses an accidentally spilled orange juice draining out of the scuppers, or sees you wipe algae off the scum line? Under the present draft permit guidelines, all of these instances may be deemed a violation of the Clean Water Act," added Podlich. "Even topping off a fuel tank, which is recommended for winter storage of today's ethanol-laden gasoline, could be considered a violation," she added.

Also included in the draft EPA permit is the onerous requirement that every state must approve the federal permit before this September 30. Each state may add on its own regulations, potentially creating multiple requirements for boaters cruising between states. After the initial permit this fall, the EPA will then outline for the states how they can implement their own permit systems, which could result in additional state modifications of the permit requirements as well as fees for boaters.

To contact your federal legislators, learn more about the Clean Boating Act of 2008, or to make comments on the draft EPA permit by August 1 go to http://www.BoatBlue.org or http://www.BoatUS.com/gov

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Thanks Glen.  Good information.  I have just sent an e-mail to all appropriate elected officials from the President down thru the Virginia officials at the BoatUS.com/gov site listed at the end of your post.

I urge all readers of your post to follow suit please.

Bob

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Message sent.  Thanks for posting this Glenn.  I hope everyone on this site gets onboard and sends the message.

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Sign it now if you haven't already!  Thanks!

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I sent mine off the first day of the thread.  I received an email today from Barbara Mikulski,  US Senator from Maryland.  She appreciates my concern and supports our cause.  

Pretty fast response.

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I sent my message also.  Oklahoma's Govenor, Brad Henry, sent me a letter saying it's not his problem.  i.e. It's up to the US Congress.

On the other hand, one of my congressmen sent me the following e-mail:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for H.R. 5949, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts on this matter with me.

H.R. 5949 seeks to exempt recreational vessels from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on discharge from commercial vessels in U.S. waters. This legislation would include any deck runoff from a recreational vessel, any engine cooling water, and other discharge incidental to the normal operation of a recreational boat. This exemption would not apply to rubbish, trash, garbage, or other such materials discharged overboard by a recreational vessel.

I understand and share your concern about burdensome regulations on recreational vessels. Currently, H.R. 5949 has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for further legislative consideration. Should H.R. 5949 come before me on the House floor, I will keep your thoughts in mind.

It is an honor to serve you in Washington and Oklahoma. If you would like more information on issues, or would like to share your thoughts with me via e-mail, you may visit my website at http://sullivan.house.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me again should you have further concerns on federal legislation or programs.

Sincerely,

John Sullivan

Member of Congress

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I sent mine off the first day of the thread.  I received an email today from Barbara Mikulski,  US Senator from Maryland.  She appreciates my concern and supports our cause.  

Pretty fast response.

Yesterday afternoon,  I received pretty much the same response from my US Representative Steny Hoyer.

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Add one more to the list. The Governor of GA was pushing some fishing initiative a year or so ago so lets see if they really care.  

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I have now heard from Ben Cardin,  my other US Senator.  He is a co-sponsor of the bill.

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Well, be still my heart!  Our legislators finally did something, on a bi-partisan basis, that has a positive benefit for millions of people. How unusual!

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