- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Regarding Gene Mueller’s July 9 Outdoors column, “EPA permit is a bureaucratic nightmare,” (Sports) we would appreciate the opportunity to note that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed issuance of Clean Water Act general permits for vessel discharges is in response to a court ruling. In fact, EPA has excluded all boats from such permitting requirements for more than 35 years, and it is only because of a recent court ruling that these permits will be required for incidental discharges from recreational boats as well as commercial boats.

EPA has appealed that ruling, but as it stands, the court’s decision to require these permits goes into effect on Sept. 30. In light of that fact, EPA issued a proposal to put a permitting program in place so that after Sept. 30, vessels will not be violating the Clean Water Act and therefore be subject to lawsuits. Recognizing the many differences between commercial vessels and recreational boats, EPA has proposed a separate recreational general boat permit, which would be practical to implement and would provide environmental benefit. The permit provides a simplified process that does not involve any fees, will not require recreational boaters to apply for permit coverage and consists of simple steps to control discharges in keeping with good boating practices.

In short, EPA is proposing a practical approach until Congress or the courts can provide a longer-term, comprehensive solution. We believe it is good environmental policy and common sense to promote clean boating without imposing new individual permits on millions of boaters. The proposed permits can help boaters and regulators maintain clean water with minimal red tape while Congress and the courts review the legal issues.

BENJAMIN H. RUMBLES

Assistant administrator for water

Environmental Protection Agency, Washington

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