August 01, 2008

Family Boating Avoids New Permit Threats

Bill co-sponsored by Crapo is now law

Washington, DC - Family boaters have won a reprieve from the threat of facing a costly and unnecessary permitting process, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo co-sponsored legislation written to head off potentially costly permitting requirements for recreational boaters. The legislation passed both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives by Unanimous Consent and was signed into law.

Crapo, a member of the Congressional Boating Caucus and the Co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, said judicial interpretations of environmental law could have penalized boat owners for incidental discharge related to bilge water, engine cooling water and common deck runoff. He co-sponsored the Clean Boating Act (S. 2766) that was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) to codify a 34-year old exemption recreational boats have from permitting requirements for incidental discharge under law.

A U.S. District Court had nullified rules put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 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, could have also affected the nation's eighteen million recreational boats. Ballast water, which is largely used by commercial boats, is carried on board to ensure stability.

"Now that Congress has acted to restore this exemption, family boaters will not face the threat of complying with a burdensome and costly permitting system," Crapo said. "This unintended action could have also affected canoes and kayaks, but we found unanimous support in Congress to stop this threat." Groups supporting the legislation include the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.