Support the Clean Boating Act of 2008
S. 2766 Preserves Recreational Boating & Protects Environment Recreational boating is one of the most enjoyable American pastimes for 73 million boaters nationwide to spend time together outside enjoying our natural treasures with friends and family. But, unless Congressional action is taken soon to pass S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008, the estimated 18 million recreational boats in this country could be subjected to sweeping new regulations and permit requirements intended for commercial ships with ballast water tanks, preventing boaters from enjoying this great past time.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 20, 2007, that they will begin moving forward with a new and unprecedented permitting scheme for recreational boats to comply with a September 2006 landmark ballast water court ruling. Under the ruling, EPA will have to devise a permitting scheme by September 30, 2008, for engine cooling water, bilge water, gray water, and deck runoff from recreational boats previously exempted under the Clean Water Act.

For 34 years recreational vessels have been exempted by EPA from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for these effluents deemed normal to the operation of vessels. These permits are more commonly applied to large commercial sites and water treatment facilities. However, the court struck this exemption down because it also exempted ballast water discharges from large ocean going commercial ships that have introduced damaging aquatic invasive species into U.S. waters for many years through their ballast water discharges. The court's decision was intended to protect the environment and local communities, but it will now unfortunately toss recreational boats into the same category as commercial cargo ships. This was clearly never the intention of the law, or the EPA.

I am writing today to ask you to fix this oversight by supporting passage of S. 2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. By supporting S. 2766, and its passage into law, you will enshrine this proven 34-year old exemption for recreational boats, sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson. The legislation is straight forward and specific, and would only apply to recreational boats and their water-based engine cooling water, bilge water, gray water, and common deck runoff.

As a boater, I can tell you that it is important that we protect our environment for future enjoyment. The ballast water debate should be about addressing the important environmental concerns about large cargo ships and their ballast water tanks. However it should not be about preventing boaters from enjoying this great American past time with an unnecessary, complex, onerous and unprecedented permitting scheme. Please consider co-sponsoring and supporting passage of S. 2766, it is important legislation for the nation's 73 million avid boaters and the 380,000 U.S. workers of the recreational boating industry.