If you are among those who acted on requests to write Congress about the “Clean Boating Act of 2008,” give yourself a well-deserved “atta-boy!” You and more than 150,000 others sent email messages to members of Congress, 120,000 emails alone via the website BoatBlue.org. That’s an amazing number!
Just in case you haven’t heard, late last week both the House and Senate passed the “clean Boating Act.” This represents the biggest legislative victory for the boating industry and our customers since the repeal of the insidious luxury tax in 1993. This Act permanently restores a long-standing exemption for recreational boats from having to obtain a discharge permit under the Clean Water Act.
This victory is particularly sweet for several reasons. For one, as NMMA president Thom Dammrich has continuously stressed, requiring every American boater to get a discharge permit “posed the biggest threat to boating since the luxury tax.” Scratch that threat!
Second, and equally important, this reaffirms that when all sides of this industry — retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, services, publishers, financial — unite to move in a common direction, even high hurdles will be cleared.
Third, when this industry power is coupled up to the strength of the nation’s grassroots boat owners, it produces real traction. That’s exactly what happened in this case. Remember, on average it takes Congress 7 years to pass a bill. Incredibly, we cut that by more than 4 ½ years! In addition, we did it at a time when Congress is actually passing very few bills due, in big part, to election-year politics. As MRAA’s lobbyist Larry Innis wrote in an MRAA Dealer Alert thanking all retailers for working so hard on this issue, “the literal thousands of emails, calls and letters are what made the difference!”
So let’s hand out some more well-deserved kudos today. For example, we need to recognize the efforts of BoatUS Government Affairs Director Margaret Podlich who rallied tens of thousands of boat owners to action. In addition, there was outstanding work by NMMA’s Washington lobbying team of Scott Gudes, Cindy Squires and, especially, Mathew Dunn and Dylan Jones who did an remarkable job quarterbacking the whole effort.
In all, there was a coalition of 60 organizations in BoatBlue pulling together. West Marine, for example, got its customers to generate more than 50,000 emails from BoatBlue.org. Boattest.com generated another 20,000 from its Web site. Then, there was strong personal involvement in countless meetings by industry executives like Duane Kuck at Regal and Wayne Burdick at Beneteau to name just two. The regional marine trades associations constantly pushed their members to action, and the list goes on and on.
Finally, to each of you who read this blog and actually responded to the call for action via BoatBlue.org, I offer my genuine thanks as an avid boater/angler and industry member.
In a few words — A truly great job, all!