Full court press for Recreational Boating Act

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The clock is running down and it’s time for a full court press! We’re now under 9 months until every boater in America will be required to obtain a NPDES permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, only Congress, by passing legislation, can prevent this debacle.

That’s why we need to applaud the letter delivered last week to the members of the Congressional Boating Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, urging each member to co-sponsor H.R. 2550. What made this particular letter important is that it was signed by 35 national and state organizations and agencies in boating and fishing.

H.R. 2550 was introduced last May by Congressman Gene Taylor and Congresswoman Candice Miller titled “The Recreational Boating Act of 2007.” The bill would exempt the nation’s recreational boats from the requirement to obtain a NPDES permit for what are non-harmful, incidental discharges associated with the normal operation of pleasure boats. These discharges, for example, include deck runoff (from washing boats), engine cooling water, and uncontaminated bilge water. If Congress does not act, all boaters will have to apply for such permits beginning next Sept. 8.

Mathew Dunn, NMMA’s Manager of Natural Resources & Economic Policy in Washington, DC, aggressively solicited participation from organizations and agencies that represent thousands of employees and businesses. Those who stepped up to be a signatory to the letter deserve to be named. They are: American Recreation Coalition; American Sportfishing Association; American Watercraft Association; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Association of Marina Industries; Berkley Conservation Institute; Blue Ribbon Coalition; BoatUS; California Assn. of Harbor Masters & Port Captains; Chicago Yachting Assn.; Coastal Conservation Assn.; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; C-PORT; Federation of Fly Fishers; MRAA; NASBLA; National Boating Federation; NMMA; PWIA; Pure Fishing; Recreational Boaters of California; USA Water Ski; and the Marine Trades Associations from Connecticut, Florida, Lake Erie, Maine, South Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Northwest, South Florida, Southern California, Southwest Florida.

Right now, there are 45 cosponsors of H.R. 2550. That means there are 390 other members of the House who aren’t, yet. Odds are your Congressman is one of them. It also means your e-mail to he or she could bring them aboard.

So, come on. . . right now, while you’re online, go to www.congress.org, find your Congressman’s e-mail and send a simple message asking them to contact either Rep. Taylor or Miller and become a cosponsor of H.R. 2550. Please, get off the bench and get in the game before it’s too late!

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