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EPA seeks industry input on regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although any regulations are still a few years away, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to know what boaters and the marine industry think about best practices regarding recreational boat discharges.

The EPA is seeking public comment to help develop proposed regulations, as required by the 2008 Clean Boating Act, to reduce water pollution and the spread of invasive species in the nation's rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

As an alternative to permits required for commercial vessels, the act directs the EPA to develop and promulgate management practices for recreational vessels.

The agency held a public session in March in Annapolis, Md., and on Wednesday the EPA asked industry leaders at the American Boating Congress where else it should go to hear what boaters have to say.

Suggestions included boat shows, marina events, social media, boating publications, industry events such as the International BoatBuilders' Exhibition & Conference or through Sea Grant.

Denise Keehner, of the EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds, said she expects to finish gathering comments this year or next and have a proposal in place sometime in 2012. After a proposal is published, there is generally a 90-day comment period and it can be another year to 18 months before regulations are in place, she said.

The Coast Guard would have responsibility for enforcing any regulations.

Keehner said she's optimistic that if the public works with the agency it can craft a proposal that is easy to understand, not overly burdensome and based on common sense and sound science.

"We want to make sure the regulation is something that achieves its end goal in a good, cost-effective way," she said.

The ABC continues this morning with a slate of speakers that include Congressional Boating Caucus co-chairs Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., and Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. In the afternoon, attendees will visit Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of the industry.

About 175 people are attending ABC and 110 visits to congressional offices are scheduled.

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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