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Federal Alert Archives-
EPA Clean Boating Act Updates

June 2, 2011
BoatUS comments on regulation of recreational vessels under the Clean Boating Act

In response to the EPA call for stakeholder input regarding potential new regulations of the recreational vessels under the Clean Water Act, BoatUS has submitted the following comments:

BoatUS Comments on implementation of CBA

It is anticipated that EPA will continue to develop these potential new requirements over the next year. We will post more information as it becomes available.

May 28, 2011
Reminder to comment on EPA Clean Boating Act implementation by June 2nd, 2011

Boaters are reminded they have until June 2nd, 2011 to make comments to the EPA regarding how it should go about implementing certain portions of the Clean Boating Act. See a copy of the Federal Register notice on this topic.

April 25, 2011
EPA Postpones "Webinar" on Clean Boating Act

In a notice on the EPA Clean Boating Act web page, the Agency has postponed the webinars scheduled for April 22nd and 25th until May 5th and 10th. Boater can find the latest schedule information at:

Boater can also submit comments to EPA on their current voluntary clean boating techniques and how they can be incorporated into any future "management practices" until June 2nd, 2011 at

For more information visit the EPA Clean Boating Act website.


March 29, 2011
EPA Working on Clean Boating Requirements - Make Your Voice Heard!

In response to the Clean Boating Act passed in 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding listening session on clean boating practices.

For more information visit the EPA Clean Boating Act website.

March 15, 2011
EPA Listening Session on regulation to implement the Clean Boating Act

The United States Environmental Protection Agency is holding public listening sessions as they develop regulations and best management practices to implement the Clean Boating Act. Two live sessions have been scheduled as well as several "webinars" to gather boaters' perspectives on clean boating techniques that are practical for everyday boating.

EPA has created web pages on this issue: EPA Clean Boating Act Web Site

A specific list of the proposed requirements is not yet available. We do know that sewage will not be discussed or covered – it's part of a different law. It appears that EPA is looking at several broad categories of vessel discharges (including the use of anti-fouling paints and zincs, gray water (from showers and sinks), bilge water (with concern about oil and grease, which is already illegal to discharge), the use of cleaning products, disposal of garbage and fishing waste, and the transport of invasive species.

Boaters need to help EPA understand that that any new mandatory "best management practices" must be based in science, and should be both practical and realistic on actual boats.

There are three ways for boaters to let EPA know their views:
  • Two in person meeting
    Meeting Details:
    Where: Doubletree Hotel, 210 Holiday Court, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401
    When: March 18th, 7 pm and April 29th, 7 pm
  • "Webinars" online presentations and discussions of the issue.
    Additional information and the schedule for the "webinars" can be found here: EPA Clean Boating Act Webinars
  • Email EPA directly at CleanBoatingAct-HQ@EPA.GOV

The EPA notice for these meeting and public participation opportunities can be found here: Clean Boating Act Meeting FR Notice

For clean boating tips and techniques visit the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water's clean boating web page : Foundation Clean Boating



July 30, 2008
EPA Discharge Permit for Recreational Boaters

President Bush Signs Clean Boating Act of 2008!

It's a great day for boating! Last night on the way home from Ohio on Air Force One, the President signed S. 2766 "The Clean Boating Act of 2008" into law. This picture shows Representatives Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH), a champion of this common sense legislation and Patrick Tiberi (R-OH). Thank you to the thousands of boaters nationwide who helped get this important bill passed into law!

President Bush Signs Clean Boating Act of 2008


March 2008
Boat Owners May have Federal Tax Benefits Available

What's the Timing?
Why a New Bill?
What are the Differences in the Bills?
What Does S 2766 Include?
View a Copy of the Bill
Speaking Points
Contact Your Senators

In 1999, environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an attempt to control the spread of aquatic nuisance species by mandating the treatment of ballast water in large commercial ocean going ships.

The court's decision, issued in fall 2006, mandated that EPA is required to develop an operational discharge permit for every vessel in the U.S. by 9/30/2008. Vessels include boats, ships, dinghies, and everything in between.

EPA is currently drafting that permit system. If national legislation is not passed, we expect that you will need to apply for a permit for each of your boats, renew it every 5 years, and potentially get a separate permit for every state where you operate the boat. With this impending permit deadline about six months away, the urgency to pass this legislation is strong.

In the last year, there have been several federal bills introduced to try to help keep recreational boats out of this permit system. Until last week HR 2550 and S. 2067 "The Recreational Boating Act of 2007" have been our best option to date. These are the bills that we've supported for nearly a year. Last fall, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) committed to fixing this issue for recreational boaters. As a result, S. 2766 "The Clean Boating Act of 2008" was formally introduced on March 13, 2008.

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What's the timing?
Under current court mandate, EPA must have a permit system in place for all vessels by September 30, 2008. Unless legislation is passed, boaters need to have their permits in hand to legally operate their boats in October and beyond.

With elections in eight months, and time set aside for Members of Congress to work in their home district, there really isn't a whole lot of spare time in Washington D.C. As a result, we are working with others in the marine industry, including National Marine Manufacturers Association, to get this legislation passed this spring. In addition, for those folks who like less government waste, the sooner this legislation passes, the less time EPA spends developing a permit system that won't be used.

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Why a new bill?

While boating groups, including BoatUS, have been pushing HR 2550 and S 2067 for months, the bills have not yet picked up the needed momentum. HR 2550 currently has 70 sponsors (both Republicans and Democrats) and S 2067 has 12 sponsors (11 Republicans and 1 Democrat). At this time, S. 2766 has the best chance of gaining widespread political support from both Democrats and Republicans.

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What are the differences in the bills?
Both HR 2550 and S. 2067 articulate the definition of a recreational boat and then exempt recreational boats from the permit requirement of the Clean Water Act.
The new bill, S. 2766, includes all that language, with two additions. Charter boats are exempted from the permit and there is a three year, three part framework to determine if any management practices should be required. (see below)

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What does S 2766 include?
The "Clean Boating Act of 2008", addresses three major points:

  • Recreational vessels (including charter boats) are exempt from a new Clean Water Act permit requirement for normal operational discharges. (This eliminates the possibility of citizen lawsuits against boaters or agencies for not complying with a permit system.)

  • There is a new three year, three part framework to look at normal operational discharges of recreational boats and determine if any management practices should be required. EPA, with the Coast Guard, and other agencies will determine if there are any discharges (other than sewage) for which they need to develop new management practices that are "reasonable and practicable." For any management practice developed, they'll develop performance standards which take into account different sizes, types, and ages of boats as well as safety and economic impact. Then the Coast Guard will develop regulations for the discharges. Each of the three steps includes a public comment period.

  • This bill does not rescind any existing environmental restrictions - it will still be illegal to discharge plastics and garbage, oil and fuel, and raw sewage.
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View a copy of the bill

View S. 2766, "The Clean Boating Act of 2008"

If you have questions about the bill, click here to send us an email: or call us at 703-461-2878 x8355.

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Speaking Points

Call your Senator's office in Washington DC. Let them know you are a recreational boater, and ask them for their support for S. 2766, the "Clean Boating Act of 2008."

Help them know
  1. This bill is a practical solution to the looming 9/30/2008 EPA permit deadline for recreational boaters, anglers, and charter boats.

  2. This bill does not turn back any existing environmental restrictions on boating.

  3. This bill will reduce bureaucracy currently being created to administer and implement an EPA permit program for more than 15 million recreational vessels.

  4. Be sure to say thank you!

  5. Please let us know how your conversation went - whether they were supportive, neutral or negative. Send us an email at or visit the Government Affairs Contact page.