SCHUMER: ULSTER COUNTY'S RECREATIONAL BOATERS GET SUNK BY NEW FEDERAL RULES - WOULD FORCE SMALL BOATERS TO GET SAME EXPENSIVE PERMITS AS OIL TANKERS OR FACE $32K FINES
New Inane Rule Places Same Fed Regulations on Massive Freighters and Family BoatsSchumer Pushes Bill to Exempt Recreational Boaters From Needing New PermitsWithout the Bill, EPA's Misguided New Rule Would Financially Strangle Recreational Boating Industry in Ulster County, Affecting Boaters on Hudson River Costing Region Millions in Lost Revenue
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer blasted a new federal regulation set to go into effect that will financially punish Ulster, Sullivan, Orange and surrounding counties' 24,592 recreational boaters by forcing them to obtain the same permits as massive oil tankers and freight ships or face fines of up to $32,000 per day. A 2006 decision by the U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be accountable for regulating the discharge of ballast water from large commercial ships and tankers. However, the EPA is now set to implement the rule to cover small familyowned boaters as well, forcing them to obtain the same costly permits as large commercial ships despite the minimal amount of pollution their boats give off. The rule is set to kickin on September 30th of this year.
Standing at Certified Marine Service in Connelly and joined by local recreational boaters, sportsmen and businesspeople, Schumer today pushed a bill moving in the Senate and House that will ensure Ulster County's small boaters aren't forced to procure the new permits, while ensuring larger pollution causing commercial boats are still forced to meet environmental standards. Schumer warned that unless recreational boaters are relieved from meeting the new standard, the industry across Ulster, Sullivan, Orange and the surrounding counties will take a serious financial hit. The industry currently has a $152 million economic impact across the region and employs nearly 100 jobs in the region.
"Just as thousands of families across Ulster County getting their boats in the water for the summer season, a storm cloud of onerous and unfair regulation is gathering on the horizon," said Senator Schumer. "By forcing small recreational boaters across Ulster County to abide by the same regulations as massive oil tankers, this new rules with budget busting fines threatens to sink the important and thriving recreational boating industry across the region . This impending regulation defies every iota of reason, which is why we must ensure the recreational boaters are exempt from it and that it only properly pertains to oil tankers and massive freight ships. It's time to toss this illadvised regulation overboard."
Ulster, Sullivan, Orange and the surrounding counties' 24,592 registered recreational boaters will soon be forced to purchase new government permits for boating or face fines of up to $32,500 per day. A 2006 court decision in California will expand a federal water law designed to keep tankers and massive freight boats from polluting waterways to cover small, familyowned recreational boaters as well. All recreational boats will, by September of 2008, be required to obtain a federal or state permit to operate their vessel.
Although the court case involved regulating ballast water from foreign ships, it also overturned a 35 year old exemption that applied to the waterbased, incidental discharges of all vessels, including recreational boats. Incidental discharges can include rainwater runoff and engine cooling water, as well as the runoff of oil, raw sewage, hazardous pollutants and garbage. Oil tankers and large commercial ships are the main culprits for incidental discharges.
However, this fall, Ulster County's recreational boaters will have to abide by the same regulations as large commercial ships, forcing them to procure potentially costly federal and state permits. It could even involve forcing boaters to purchase multiple permits to operate their boats in different states.
The fear is that the new permits and the fines of up to $32,500 could hurt the booming recreational boating industry across Ulster County, where nearly 25,000 recreational boaters regularly boat up and down the Hudson River.
In Ulster, Sullivan, Orange and the surrounding counties, the National Marine Manufacturers Association identifies 31 recreational boating businesses, employing 94 people that bring in $39 million in yearly sales and help generate $40 million in spending yearly on boating trips. The total economic impact of craft and trip spending in the district includes $152 million in sales connected to 1304 jobs and generating $49 million in labor income annually. An additional $83 million is generated yearly in secondary valueadded income by the boating industry across the region, according to the association.
Schumer today announced he is pushing the Clean Boating Act of 2008, which will exempt recreational boat owners across Ulster County and the nation from having to obtain a federal water pollution permit. The bill exempts recreational boaters from having to acquire the permits, but will still ensure that larger commercial boats and oil tankers have to meet the environmental standards and obtain the permits.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson, has passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and on the House side, its companion legislation was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Both bills will now move before the full Senate and House for a vote.
Please Note: Numbers included throughout the release represent the entire 22 nd Congressional District.
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