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Recreational boaters may face more federal fees

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Recreational boaters may face more federal fees
But legislation is pending that would overrule the decision.

...the Michigan boating industry fears another broadside is coming if recreational boaters face new federal fees and permits that could cost each captain of the ship hundreds of dollars.

Under a 2006 court decision, federal rules that regulate the discharge of ballast or bilge water by ships also apply to those plying the waters on a sailboat or cabin cruiser. Legislation pending in Congress would overrule that decision, maintaining the exemption for recreational boaters that has existed for more than three decades. But the prospect of federal permit and enforcement requirements has boaters and marina owners worried.

http://www.macombdaily.com/stories/060307/loc_boat001.shtml
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Boaters push bill to eliminate permit process

http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-36/1181829311326520.xml&coll=6

06/14/07 By Kyla King The Grand Rapids Press [email protected]

As if gas prices topping $3 a gallon aren't enough, the state's nearly 1 million registered boaters could face new permit requirements and fees in 2008 unless legislation pending in the U.S. House is adopted.

Locals in the industry are watching it closely.

"This is right at the top of our radar screen," said David Slikkers of Tiara Yachts of Holland. "We were on this like you can't even believe. We're pursuing it as tenaciously as we can because we can't assume, or take anything for granted, until it's dead."

Co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, the legislation would exempt recreational boaters from a potentially time-con-suming and expensive permit process.

Those boaters, Slikkers said, inadvertently got caught in efforts to prevent untreated ballast water from introducing invasive species into the Great Lakes.

In 2006, a U.S. District Court ruling nullified an Environmental Protection Agency exemption to its pollution permit to allow "normal" vessel discharges, which included ballast water. Various states and environmental groups claimed the exemption was illegal under the 1973 Clean Water Act.

The problem is the exemption that was killed also covered bilge water, engine cooling water, deck runoff and laundry and bath water -- all of which are generated by recreational boaters.

Just how difficult it would be to get a permit and how much it would cost is unknown, because the EPA has no system to regulate recreational boats this way, nor does Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality, said Van Snider, Michigan Boating Industries Association president.

That's just one of the reasons U.S. Reps. Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, and Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, said they support the bill's intent to spare recreational boaters from a complicated permit process.

Hoekstra said the legislation appears to have "broad-based support," but cautioned that politics, or environmental concerns, could always come into play.

"On the surface this looks like something that is not a partisan issue," he said. "I would think that on its merits, it looks like one of these things that is almost a no-brainer."

"But ... nothing (in Washington D.C.) is ever as easy as it looks," Hoekstra said.

That is why locals like Slikkers are worried.

Slikkers points out that Michigan boaters who routinely dock in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana potentially might need multiple permits or risk being in violation when they come ashore.

"Say all the permits are $800 per state, so all of the sudden you have a $3,200 bill," he said.

The financial impact on Michigan could be significant, said National Marine Manufacturers Association Spokesman Duncan Neasham.

According to NMMA, Michigan is the third-largest boating state in the country, with 944,138 registered boats, 78 boat builders and 85 marinas. In 2005, the state generated more than $526 million in new powerboat, engine, trailer and boating accessory sales.
I dont see a problem with this at all.Most folks that have boats like that have money to spend.Long as it dont hit the avg fisherman with no cabin ect....Unless im missing something here sound ok to me,Mich
New rule should exclude recreational boaters

However, you can help ensure that recreational boats are exempted from new rules covering discharges from vessels by letting your representative and senators know that they need to get behind a bill by Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., that would fix the problem.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070729/SPORTS10/707290624/1058
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