Filed Under (Boats and Boating Gear) by Debbie on 23-06-2008

The Clean Boat Act 2008 keeps rattling around in my mind and I know some inside the boat industry think the EPA permit we’ll all need is a good idea.  I don’t agree with them.  Oh, I’ve read their opinions and I understand that generally they feel we recreational boat owners are incapable of policing ourselves, we need to have a law in place or the waters we boat on are going to be ruined.

First, I think it will be an easy tax to implement.  Tax?  Yep, I feel any time you pay money to the government it’s a tax.  Doesn’t matter if they call it a license, permit or fee it really boils down to a tax.  Remember U.S History and the ‘Stamp Act’?  That little tax was the cause of the Boston Tea Party.  There are 15 MILLION recreational boats in the USA and I’ve heard this permit could be as much as $2,000…that’s a lot of money, especially if you have to have one for each state you boat in.

Second, recreational boats have been exempt for the past 34 years from the discharge permit.  This permit system was designed for large ocean going ships that use a water ballast.  I currently can’t see how buying a permit is going to help control the spread of invasive plants and animals.  You’ll drive down to the local government office or mail in the official form along with your check.  You’ll get your permit and it will most likely stick to the side of your boat.  So, now what?  Will the permit police patrol the launch ramps and water ways?  Will your wakeboard ballast sacks or your bilge or trailer be inspected prior to launching?  How exactly will buying this permit help?

In my minds eye, I can see the ‘Friends of the Columbia Gorge’ (or whatever location you’d like to insert) zealously guarding the waterways with their binoculars.  Ah Ha…here comes hapless family out for a day of boating.  The kids play on their towable tube  and come back on board soaking wet and sit down on the seat.  Dad pulls the tube up, drains most of the water out of it (discharge) and secures it to the boat where it drip, drip, drips the remainder inside the boat.  Maybe mom or dad goes for a run on the wakeboard and again climbs into the boat while wet.  Maybe they have an open bow boat and hit a wake wrong and take some water over the bow.

Dad flips on the bilge pump to empty the water back into the lake or river (discharge).  The ever-alert ‘Friend’ see the water flowing from the boat back into the river and quickly jots down the registration number.  An emergency ‘Friends’ meeting is held to decide how best to handle this travesty…after all that boat discharged into the river.  Hapless family finds themselves at the county to defend themselves and if the ‘Friends’ group disagrees with the commissioners they’ll be hauled into court because they had a discharge.  And because the ‘Friends’ group will be a recognized by the state any appeals they file will be free, whereas for you and I it’ll run several hundred dollars.  Not to mention the lawyer you’ll need to have come in at the county level just incase you get drug into court.

S 2766 is what I view as a compromise.  Yes, it exempts recreational boat owners from the discharge permit but it also gives a review time to the US Coast Guard.  They’ll study recreational boats to see if there’s something more we need to be doing as a group.  I think we all have the don’t throw garbage and don’t spill oil and fuel overboard down pretty good.

Last year at Shasta Lake in California there were officials from their marine board at the launch ramps.  They took a survey of where each boat spent time on the water and handed out identification cards for the invasive plants and animals.  The boaters I spoke with had no idea there were problems with invasives.  So maybe it’s not so much we need to be policed but more informed.

I don’t believe the EPA boat permit will help stop the spread of invasives.  I do believe we have a problem and that we can fix it but I think we need more than a knee jerk permit.  We all want to boat on clean water and aside from a few idiots most boat owners are careful with their waterways.  Sailboat or power boat, it doesn’t matter you have to weigh in on this issue because come September ’08 you’re buying a permit.

1 Comment posted on "EPA Boat Permit and Why I Oppose"
Mike Harmon on June 23rd, 2008 at 9:37 am #


I like your site, thanks.

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