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Maine Fishing Boats Exempted from New Discharge Rules

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree cosponsored legislation to protect Maine fishermen and mariners from onerous, unneeded regulation

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that the House has passed a bill prohibiting the EPA from regulating the discharges of small marine vessels. The legislation was based on a temporary exemption for fishing boats cosponsored by Pingree last year.

Without the legislation, small fishing boats would have to meet rigorous point source pollution standards. Point source permits are typically required for large scale industrial facilities like paper mills.

The legislation was included in the CoastGuard Reauthorization Act.

"I'm very happy this legislation passed--it's great news for the fishermen who make their living on the water," said Pingree. "There is no need to require extensive permits for small boats that release gray water, have rain come off their decks, or make other discharges that the EPA says have no adverse environmental impacts. This legislation addresses that unneeded level of regulation."

The legislation covers all fishing boat and commercial vessels under 79 feet for discharges that are incidental to normal operation, such as gray water from laundry and galleys or effluent from functioning engines. If the legislation had not passed, vessels of any size with these discharges would soon have to be permitted under the Clean Water Act.

Small marine vessels without these permits could have also been subject to lawsuits.

"We have very little to gain by heaping these regulations on small vessel operators, but as small business owners they have a lot to lose," Pingree said. "With all the other pressures facing our small coastal businesses, an ill-conceived and unwieldy regulatory scheme is not helpful. With all the other pressures they face today, there's no reason for this to be one of them."


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