I was addressing the All-Ohio Boating Legislative Conference in Columbus yesterday and I asked how many attendees were familiar with the pending EPA requirement that all boaters get a discharge permit beginning this September? I was taken back when only a few hands went up and most of those were attendees from the Ohio Division of Watercraft. With all the publicity this looming debacle has received from our industry trade associations and publications, I couldnít fathom why most dealers in the room sat there motionless.
In case youíre not counting, I am. Thereís only 179 days left to get Congress to do the right thing and exempt Americaís nearly 18 million recreational boaters from the court-mandated requirement.
Make no mistake, with the deadline approaching, EPA has been busy drafting its permit plans. We anticipate the plan will be published in the Federal Register for public comment any day now. Interestingly, on one hand, we can expect EPA to accept public comments and, ultimately, announce its revised final plan all in a notably short time frame now that the deadline is so close. On the other hand, if thereís an expected large volume of objections to the plan, EPA will be caught up in another unpopular program with little time to effectively modify it. In other words, thereís simply no way EPA can expect anything good to come out of all this for them, or anyone else!
If Americaís boaters are forced to get discharge permits, itís believed the implementation will be passed on to the states. While sources indicate EPA is not likely to put any federal fee on the permits, there will be no prohibitions on the states to charge. So in addition to the hassle for all boaters, there may be a significant cost. Moreover, it could be possible that the thousands of boaters who routinely cross state lines might be faced with applying for permits in each state, etc. No matter what the final rules are, itís going to be ugly!
Iíve written about this looming debacle before. If you missed that blog you should go to www.boatblue.org to get the all the details you need about how this has come about and the disastrous consequences. Two bills in Congress, “The Recreational Boating Act of 2007,” (H.B. 2550 in the House and S. 2067) permanently exempts boaters from this requirement. But it normally takes Congress more than 2 years to pass a bill. We need it in less than 6 months.
Itís now imperative that you learn about this issue and send an e-mail or call your Senator or Congressman asking them to act and support these respective bills. If I tell you your sales may drop even more and your customers may just leave boating if you do not act, will it get you moving? Well, Iím telling you that. Please, you and everyone you know, go to www.boatblue.org today and take action to protect your business!