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The date is getting closer!

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 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 today and take action to protect your business!


4 comments on “The date is getting closer!

  1. Thomas Dammrich

    Per their Sept. 2007 public pledge to remedy this problem for boaters and anglers, Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer and Senator Bill Nelson today introduced, S.2766, the Clean Boating Act of 2008. This legislation is the product of negotiations between Senate staff, NMMA and BoatU.S. In short, the bill fully and permanently restores the longstanding regulatory exemption for recreational boats and recreational boats used for charter fishing expeditions from any federal or state permitting under the Clean Water Act.

    As Norm so eloquently states, we have less than 6 legislative months to get this bill enacted. We are looking for Senate action in April 2008, following the two-week Easter recess from March 17 to April 1. We need to accumulate a high number of bipartisan co-sponsors in a short period of time to demonstrate broad support of the bill, get it passed and send it over to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As Norm suggests, please visit today, immediately, right now, and send an email to your Senator urging them to co-sponsor s.2766. And, then ask each of your employees and friends and customers to do the same!

  2. John Todd

    How about an exemption for those vessels equipped with MSD’s, as all new Burgers are?

    The discharge from our systems is a little less of a pollutant than the water you might have used to wash your dog.

    On the other hand, who wants to sit in an anchorage where there’s floaters in sight and the idea of taking a swim is about as inviting as rolling in the gutter? Or how about the live-aboard area in your local harbor? Should we issue all those people permits to pump their waste overboard? I’m including all the summer dwellers who move aboard their plastic bleach bottles to enjoy a summer on the water. No Thanks!

  3. Robert Tech

    Norm, the EPA does not expect anything good to come out of this for the boating industry. In fact, they intentionally want something bad to happen to boating because boating has a “negative externality”.

    I’m not making this up. I was on the EPA web site recently trying to figure out why the EPA is going after boating so much. There were links to the Federal Register / Vol. 72, No 96, Page 28105. That is right, a 5 digit page number.

    The understatement of this issue is “I think we have too much government”.

    “The health and environmental effects associated with emissions from marine engines are a classic example of a negative externality (an activity that imposes uncompensated costs on others). With a negative externality, an activity’s social cost (the cost on society imposed as a result of the activity taking place) exceeds its private cost (the cost to those directly engaged in the activity). Emissions from marine engines impose health and environmental costs on society. The market system itself cannot correct this externality. The end users of marine engines are often unaware of the environmental impacts of their use. Because of this, consumers fail to send the market a signal to provide cleaner marine engines. In addition, producers of marine engines are rewarded for emphasizing other aspects of these products (e.g., total power). To correct this market failure and reduce the negative externality, it is necessary to give producers social cost signals. The standards the EPA requires will accomplish this by mandating that marine engines reduce their emissions to a technologically feasible limit. In other words, the cost of a marine engine will account for social costs more fully.”

    Do you think the EPA cares if they are adding to the “cost” to go boating?

    Someone needs to turn the EPA’s attention away from boating.

    The 2-cycle and 4-cycle restrictions imposed in the 1990’s and phased in over a period of years ending in 2006 made those marine engines more expensive and more complicated. They did not help the bottom line at Outboard Marine Corporation. The stockholders, employees, management, retirees, dealers, and consumers all got hurt financially.

    The same thing is happening now for Stern Drive and Inboard engines. Maybe Indmar has figured out how to fit a water cooled catalytic converter under the motor cover of a ski-boat and more power to them if they have. The task is challenging for stern drive engineers. We should not rush these solutions to market because of EPA deadlines. R & D dollars spent on EPA requirements hurt the bottom line in the short term. 2008 is not exactly the best time for the EPA to be imposing additional requirements for the marine industry.

    The EPA requirement that all boaters get a discharge permit beginning this September is just another cost to add to boating to “account for social costs more fully.”

    In summary:

    The EPA does not care if they are adding to the “cost” to go boating.
    The EPA wants to add to the “cost” to go boating to account for the social costs more fully.
    We have too much government.
    Someone needs to turn the EPA’s attention away from boating… I just heard a Harley-Davidson go past… boy was it loud… I’m smelling exhaust fumes and I am feeling sick… That industry is thriving… EPA, go sniff around those guys for a few years and leave boating alone… You are killing us. Marine engine manufacturers are looking for creative ways to stay profitable like eliminating model years so they can have longer and more efficient production runs. The complexity of adding catalytic converters to stern drives will be a big hurdle and will not help the profit margin of marine engine manufacturers. The marine engine manufacturers are already going to extreme measures and adding complexity to the industry for reasons of profitability.

    Thanks for the reminder Norm. I’m with you. I’ll try to explain some of this to my senators and congressmen. Maybe they can throttle the EPA’s desire to increase the total cost of boating up to some perceived high social cost.

  4. Larry Innis


    I greatly appreciate your comments on the “Ballast Water” issue. Few people really know how serious this issue has become to recreational boating or how pressing it really is. I think our industry needs to move very fast on passage of H.R. 2550 and S. 2067, because there are actually only about 6-7 weeks left this year in Washington for Congress to do it’s business. The calendar is written for Members of Congress to go home and campaign. I do not anticipate passage of very many bills in 2008 when Congress will only be in session in town for those 6-7 weeks. There are no rumors of a lame duck session after the November elections.

    Passage of Congressman Don Young’s (R-Alaska) bill (H.R. 5594), the Vessel Discharge Evaluation and Review Act,which would give us another 2-years, may be the best strategy at this time. But what is clear, the clock is ticking and there isn’t much time left. The vast majority of Congressional time will be spent on passing appropriations bills to fund the government. There is also a rumor of a second economic stimulus package to kick start a recovery, because the first one may not have gone far enough. As in the past, it is expected one catch all bill called a CR (Continuing Resoultion) will pass late in the session to fund the government until the next Congress goes to work in 2009 after the presidential election. Most lobbyists do not expect much of anything else will pass this year.

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