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ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA - With the Memorial Day traditional start of the recreational boating season now passed, you'd think the owners of this country's 18 million boats would be in good spirits.

However, under threat of a new, onerous and potentially costly EPA permit program to be in place by September 30 of this year, recreational boaters and anglers have only a short time to encourage their Senators and Representatives in Congress to support the "Clean Boating Act of 2008." The bill would retain a 35-year-old exemption under the Clean Water Act of 1972 for "normal operational" discharges from recreational boats, such as deck run-off from rain or engine cooling water.

The EPA has been required to develop the permit program as a result of a lawsuit originally intended to prevent the spread of invasive species from abroad by targeting ocean-going commercial vessels carrying ballast water. The proposed Clean Boating Act of 2008 does not weaken any existing environmental laws that restrict the overboard discharge of oil, fuel, garbage, or sewage.

The Senate version of the bill, S. 2766, moved out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 21 following an identical House version, H.R. 5949, which moved out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on May 15. Both bills are now headed for full Senate and House votes, respectively, in the next few weeks.

"We have jumped over two huge hurdles in both the Senate and House Committees," said BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. "However, with only nine weeks left in the Congressional session before September, we are facing a tight timeline. Everyone who enjoys boating needs to ask their legislators for their support when it comes to a floor vote. We need constituents to speak up now - even if they have done so in the past year," she added.

BoatU.S. also said help is needed to convert the 93 House sponsors who had previously co-sponsored a similar House bill, H.R. 2550 - now dormant - to be co-sponsors of the newest version, H.R. 5949.

To easily contact your federal legislators or learn more about the issue, go to or

BoatU.S. is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters with over 650,000 members.