Introduced earlier this month by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., S. 2766 is similar to the Recreational Boating Act of 2007, which is pending in the House and Senate.
The bill would permanently restore a longstanding exemption for recreational boaters from federal and state permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.
The issue stems from a September 2006 U.S. District Court ruling that ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ballast water discharges and mandated a deadline of September 2008 to put it in place.
"Congress has only six months to correct a terrible wrong imposed on recreational boating by a Federal District judge that would require every boat owner to obtain a yearly federal or state permit to operate every boat owned in every state the boat operates in," MRAA said in its Dealer Alert. "The cost could go to $2,000 per boat, per state."
These permits would apply to deck runoff, bilge water, engine cooling water and any other water-based operational discharge from a recreational boat. The fines based on citizen suits range up to $32,000 per day, according to the MRAA. The EPA is already writing the required new federal rule, which is set to go operational on Oct. 1.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is also urging industry stakeholders to contact their senators to support the legislation.
"This issue has been a cloud hanging over our industry," Scott Gudes, vice president of government relations for the NMMA, said in a statement. "Without legislative relief soon, everyday boaters would be required by federal law to apply for the same expensive permits as ocean-going commercial vessels and land-based industrial facilities."