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BROWN: BOATERS PROTECTED FROM OVERREGULATION

July 23, 2008

BROWN: BOATERS PROTECTED FROM OVERREGULATION

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Henry E. Brown, Jr. (SC), the representative of 75% of South Carolina’s coastline and many of the state’s recreational and commercial boaters, made the following statement today after the House sent to the White House legislation that would permanently prevent recreational boaters from being subject to efforts to regulate “incidental discharges” such as deck wash:

“Like many, the decision by a federal court in 2006 to require all 16 million vessels in the United States to obtain permission from the EPA to operate their boat came as an unpleasant surprise.

Today, however, both the House and Senate did the right thing and set up environmentally responsible exemptions and standards for incidental discharges from recreational boats.  This measure will preclude the thousands of recreational boaters who enjoy the waters of the 1st District from obtaining a permit or being subject to costly fines.  Additionally, it sets up standards that ensure the protection of our environment.”

The legislation (S. 2766) was introduced following a 2006 court decision that ended 30-year-old “incidental discharge” exemption.  Without Congressional action, boat owners, would have needed permits starting this fall for discharges that occur because of the simple operation of a vessel, or become subject to fines of up to $32,500 per day.  All recreational boats would have been covered, including sailboats, kayaks, and other motorized and non-motorized recreational boats.

Congress also passed legislation (S. 3298) that provides a two year permit exemption for all fishing and shrimping vessels and all small commercial vessels under 79 feet.  This will give the EPA time to better evaluate the correct way under federal law to regulate incidental discharges from these vessels – either by permits or through simply developing national standards that ensure the protection of the environment.  Brown was actively involved in the development of this legislation that will give EPA time to craft a common-sense regulatory approach.

Today’s legislation does not change existing federal law that regulates and limits the discharge of oil and other pollutants or discharges from cruise ships and or ocean-going ships.

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