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Senate bill on looming EPA debacle

Good news from Washington! A companion bill to HR 2550 has just been introduced in the U.S. Senate. It’s an important step in our struggle to end the looming debacle that, beginning next September, would force all our customers to acquire a federal water discharge permit from the EPA.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida) has introduced S. 2067, the Recreational Boating Act of 2007. It is identical to HR 2550, the bill introduced in the U.S. House about 6 weeks ago to exempt recreational boats from the Clean Water Act.

As I wrote in this Dealer Outlook Blog July 31 what’s at stake is ugly and two-fold. First, existing boaters, faced with still another regulatory hassle could easily say “enough is enough” and choose to get out of boating. Second, requiring another permit clearly sets up one more barrier-to-entry for the family considering our sport.

We can’t afford either!

Sen. Martinez’s bill has six co-sponsors. They are Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.); Trent Lott (R-Miss.); Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.); Jim Bunning (R-Ky.); Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.); and John Cornyn (R-Texas). The good news is there are six co-sponsors.

The bad news is no Democrats. Clearly, it’s critical we get co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle and that’s where dealers can play a key role now. We need every dealer to write, call or e-mail their respective two Senators (Democrats and Republicans) and ask them to show their support by becoming a co-sponsor of S. 2067.

A recent U.S. District Court ruling, primarily addressing ballast water from ships, also wiped out a 3-dacades-old EPA exemption for recreational boaters from provisions of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, it prohibits deck runoff (can’t wash the boat) and gray water (can’t wash your hands) or discharging engine cooling water without a permit – all activities incidental to the normal operation of a boat.

No, no, don’t put it off, please. Write, call or e-mail your Senators today. Moreover, have your employees do the same over the next few days.

We can win this battle, but it will take all of us to get it done.

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