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    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    EPA May Be Forced to Implement New Oversight of Recreational Boaters

    A U.S. District Court Judge last fall overturned a 34 year old rule which exempted recreational boaters from having to obtain water-pollution permits required under the Clean Water Act. The permit requirement which originally only applied to large ocean going vessels must now be developed and implemented for all vessels in the United States by September 30th, 2008. The Federal Pollution Permit would be implemented to monitor and mitigate deck runoff, grey water, bilge water, engine cooling water, oil and gasoline seepage, and the use of copper bottom paints.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified the following potential environmental impacts from boating and marinas: high toxicity in the water; increased pollutant concentrations in aquatic organisms and sediments; increased erosion rates; increased nutrients, leading to an increase in algae and a decrease in oxygen (eutrophication); and high levels of pathogens.

    There are already federal laws restricting the overboard discharge of oil, fuel, garbage and sewage, however these laws are difficult to enforce and often abused. The proposed legislation does not alter any of these existing restrictions.

    Many recreational boating associations are fighting the court order and Bills have been introduced in Congress which would exempt recreational boaters from EPA oversight.

    It appears much of the backlash associated with this ruling is from businesses in the marine industry, who fear more obstacles will prevent growth in their industry. Anyone who has ever owned a boat knows what a money pit they can be. It is not surprising that boat owners are decrying the idea of an additional tax on their pleasure.

    Power boats do negatively impact the environment regardless of the scale of effect. The waterways of the United States are not the exclusive right of boat owners but the entire population. If one group wishes to utilize this portion of our national treasure they must insure that they do not sully it for the rest of Americans. Boats are for the most part luxury items, which leave a "keel print" on our natural environment. Boat owners have a responsibility to be good stewards of the resources they utilize for their enjoyment.

    Green Boating takes pride in protecting our oceans and waterways and encourages other boaters to do the same.

    For more information on this ruling visit this EPA info page.

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