I remember reading a post about this a while ago and I guess enough people filled out that mass email form and our complaints finally reached Sen. Schumer.
Below is an article in todays staten island advance:
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Recreational boating -- already an expensive hobby -- could become much more costly for some if the federal Environmental Protection Agency has its way: Obtain a new permit from the EPA, or face a daily fine that could reach up to $32,500.
The proposed regulation to hold all watercraft -- from paddleboats to oil tankers -- responsible for any fluids they discharge was blasted yesterday by Sen. Charles Schumer as a misguided attempt to place all owners in the same boat, when they shouldn't be lumped together.
"This would have just killed our boating industry," Schumer (D-N.Y.) said yesterday at Nichols Great Kills Park Marina, announcing that he is co-sponsoring a bill, known as the Clean Boating Act of 2008, to combat the new EPA permit requirement for recreational vessels. Schumer hopes the bill will pass by July 4, effectively removing the requirement.
If that measure fails, all vessels in the United States, both recreational and commercial, will be required to obtain permits from the EPA by Sept. 30. The new permit is an attempt by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System to regulate water pollution resulting from boat discharges.
Ballast water, which is carried in place of cargo under large ships to provide stability, is the main concern. The water may carry many unwanted pollutants and organisms such as zebra mussels, which can destroy entire ecosystems.
Commercial boats are the principal targets for the legislation, since about 99 percent of recreational boats are too small to require ballast water tanks.
Other water discharges, such as rainwater run-off, cooling engine water, and hose water from cleaning a boat also can be regulated under this permit.
"The boating industry is destitute right now, between gas prices and marina fees," said Jim Manos of Eltingville, a member of the Nichols marina. "That [additional permit] will destroy it, if it's not destroyed already. It will put the finishing touches on it."
Dubbed the Vessel Discharge Permit, the license is still under development, according to the EPA, and recreational boats, oil tankers and freight liners alike must obtain one by October. There is no cost for this permit, according to John Lishman, a representative from the EPA's Water Permits Division.
Boaters may have to renew these permits every five years. A separate permit may also be required for each state in which the boat operates.
"That's a scam for the small boat owners," said boater Carmine Lisciandrello of Grymes Hill.
And while there is no cost for the permit, boaters face fines for violating its terms. The maximum fee is $32,500, but the EPA said it would use discretion when assessing each offense. Still, that enormous potential fine looms over any boater who fails to follow the procedure for getting the permit.
According to Schumer, after a federal court required the EPA to improve pollution-control measures on the nation's waterways, the agency "went beyond the court decision" in structuring the regulations and penalties.
Staten Island's more than 7,000 boat owners are already reeling from increased fuel costs for their vessels.
"You put another tariff on what people have to do and you'll put more boats up there," said boat owner Joe Riccardi, referring to the vessels for sale lining the parking lot.
Should the Clean Boating Act pass, recreational boaters would be permanently excluded from the permit requirement. The court that handed down the original decision is powerless in overturning this new legislation.
Also present yesterday to lend support to Schumer and the new bill were Borough President James Molinaro, state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island) and Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R-South Shore).
Allison Duffy is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at [email protected]