Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 16 Times in 15 Posts
Rep Power: 15
I understand the frustration of those who wonder why EPA is picking on boaters when the real culprits lie elsewhere; however, anyone who thinks that EPA doesn't know or understand how small potatoes we are is simply incorrect. My opinion on this is formed from 20 years of experience as an environmental attorney, first as a staff attorney at an environmental advocacy organization, and for the past 15 years as in-house counsel at a railroad.
EPA is well aware that boaters are not the primary source of pollution to near coastal waterways. Its a basic fact, and no matter what you may think of EPA staffers' political views, they are not stupid. They know.
The criticism here (and other places) seems to focus on the conclusion that EPA is leaving the "special interests" groups like sewer systems alone while hammering the poor boater. I agree. This too is true. But consider:
If EPA were to really focus in on municipal sewer systems and require them to cut back on their pollution, it would require massive capital investment in upgrades: additional treatment ponds, separation of storm and sanitary sewer lines, and probably more restrictions on inputs. No one, not EPA, not Congress, not the states or the cities have the money to do that; and not one of those entities wants to come to you and me to borrow the money or raise taxes to pay for it. That's why EPA goes looking for other polluters to clean up their acts, not because they think its the most cost-effective and reasonable method to get clean water.
Now, for those of you who don't understand why we need to have anti-pollution laws for boaters in any case, we just have a fundamental disagreement. I take pride in doing my best to keep my home waters clean, and I don't mind at all knowing that its the law.
Oh, and btw, while we haven't met the Clean Water Act goals of all waters being fishable and swimmable, we have made great progress. For those of you old timers who complain that things are just as bad now as they ever were, I think you are wrong. Every water body that I have dealt with professionally on the east cost has greatly improved water quality by almost every standard measured over the past 20 years. If you feel that a specific water body hasn't improved, it may be relative; my guess is that a lot more people live near or use that water body since the "good old days"; if the water quality hasn't improved in the past twenty years, think of how bad it would be if the Clean Water Act hadn't started ratcheting down the pollution almost 40 years ago.