December 04, 2007

CRAPO CO-SPONSORS BILL TO PROTECT BOATERS

Legislative fix needed to avoid potential problems for family boating

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has co-sponsored new legislation seeking to avoid a costly permitting process for owners of family and recreation boats not intended under federal law. Crapo, a member of the Congressional Boating Caucus and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, says recent judicial interpretations of environmental law could penalize boat owners for incidental discharge related to bilge water, engine cooling water and common deck runoff.

The Recreational Boating Act (S. 2067) was introduced by Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida). It codifies a 34-year old exemption recreational boats have from permitting requirements for incidental discharge under law. Recently, a U.S. District Court nullified the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule, and overturned the exemptions. That ruling, which came as the result of a lawsuit brought with the intention to protect waters from invasive species carried aboard ships in ballast water, will now have a dramatic effect on the nation's eighteen million recreational boats. Ballast water, which is largely used by commercial boats, is carried on board to ensure stability.

"Unless Congress moves to restore this exemption, millions of family and recreational boat owners will be required to comply with a burdensome and costly permitting system," Crapo said. "People operating canoes and kayaks could be affected if this exemption is not restored by this legislation. We need to focus this law to the appropriate water craft, and that is what this bill will provide."

Groups supporting the legislation include the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.