U.S. House Committee Chair Repeats Request for Extension of Comment Period and Production of Information, Responds To National Ocean Council Decision Denying Request

On February 23, 2012, House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings (WA) sent a letter to National Ocean Council Co-Chairs Nancy Sutley and John Holdren seeking a 90-day extension of the public comment period on the draft Implementation Plan, as well as responses and documentation by March 5, 2012 on a number of items related to the funding and activities of the National Ocean Council.
 

Supreme Court Overturns EPA

Clean Water Act Compliance Orders Can Be Challenged In Court

By: George J. Mannina, Carollyn B. Lobell, Robert C. Horton
03/27/12


Reversing the U.S. EPA, and every Federal Court of Appeals that has considered the specific issue, a landmark 9-0 Supreme Court decision handed down March 21, 2012 holds that land-owners may challenge EPA administrative compliance orders issued under the Clean Water Act ("CWA") in court before EPA asks a court to enforce the order.  Sackett v. EPA, 2012 U.S. LEXIS 2320 (March 21, 2012).

The case arose because Michael and Chantell Sackett put fill dirt on their land in Bonner County, Idaho to build a house.  EPA, which shares enforcement authority with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps"), asserted the filled-in area contained wetlands subject to the CWA and the Sacketts violated the CWA by filling in jurisdictional wetlands without a CWA section 404 "dredge and fill" permit.  EPA issued an administrative compliance order that required the Sacketts to undo all work on their property and restore the area to its pre-construction condition.

Until now, landowners who found themselves in the Sacketts' position had little choice but to obey such compliance orders.  Under a compliance order, civil penalties of up to $75,000 per day per alleged violation accrue – up to $37,500 for allegedly violating the CWA, and up to an additional $37,500 for violating the administrative compliance order itself.  And the penalties mount up to a point in time of EPA's choosing to seek a court order enforcing the compliance order.  To put this into perspective, civil penalties could accrue at the rate of $1 million every two weeks.  Thus, compliance orders carried virtually irresistible pressure to comply as quickly as possible, even where CWA jurisdiction is questionable.

USCG Certified Life Rafts

As all USCG COI vessel owners know by now Congress passed the 2010 USCG Appropriations Law which includes a provision to require all USCG COI vessels to install USCG certified Inflatable life rafts no later than January 2015. The current USCG orange life floats will no longer be accepted after that date. In June of 2011 NACO contacted every major passenger for-hire vessel association and requested we all work together to have the law changed and to be able to continue using the orange life floats. Our efforts have been fairly successful as we were able to have language placed in the House 2011 appropriations bill and had similar language being discussed for inclusion in the Senate version.

NACO Attitude Award

NACO now issues an Attitude Award to recipients who have shown service to work for benefits to the Charter Boat sector. The award for this year was presented to Capt. Ed O’Brien, NACO First Vice President. Ed has been the NACO liaison to the USCG since he first was elected to the Board and has been responsible for negotiating and coordinating many of the reductions of regulations, limiting fees, and easing drug consortium requirements.

A Shotgun Marriage? Ethanol and Old Outboard Engines

Boat US asked Mercury Marine's Ed Alyanak and Frank Kelley, who between them have over 60 years of experience, to find out what's made these decades-old outboards more susceptible to ethanol's well-known problems and what owners can do.

MRIP Calibration Workshop

To Be Webcast

Anyone wishing to follow the proceedings of the MRIP Calibration Workshop in North Carolina March 27-29 will be able to do so online. The full workshop will be available via webcast at http://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/NOAA714581928 during the following times:

  • Tuesday, March 27, 1:00-5:30pm
  • Wednesday, March 28, 8:30am-5:30pm
  • Thursday, March 29, 8:30am-12:00pm

U.S. Secretaries Agree To Help Conserve Fish Habitat

The U.S. Secretaries of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture have made a joint commitment to work together to promote collaborative, science-based conservation of our waterways and fisheries. They will sign an agreement which will focus on partnership-based conservation efforts through the National Fish Habitat Partnership.

 

Tax Scam Time Here

BEWARE THESE SIGNS OF AN ONLINE TAX SCAM

Scammers use email, websites and even social media to trick taxpayers into sharing personal and financial information, which they can then use to steal your identity. Meant to either frighten or entice, these fraudulent messages may threaten a tax audit or offer a tax refund.

But know this: The IRS does not generally send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers or request financial account security information, such as PIN numbers. Further, they will not discuss tax account information with taxpayers via e-mail or use it to request sensitive financial and personal information from taxpayers.

Sport Fish Restoration Fund

SENATE PASSES BILL INCLUDING REAUTHORIZATION OF SPORT FISH RESTORATION AND BOATING TRUST FUND

The Senate has passed its version of the highway bill and it contains a straight reauthorization for Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. However, the House is struggling to bring its version of the highway bill to the floor and it is very possible that they will not be able to do so before the presidential election has passed. Congress may have to pass an extension to the present highway law and NMMA continues working with its coalition partners to ensure that SFRBTF is included, in its present form, in any extension that is considered by Congress in the weeks to come.

ICCAT Advisory Meeting

NACO’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SERVES ON THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND NACO'S PRESIDENT SERVES AS A TECHNICAL ADVISOR

The upcoming meeting will be held May 1-2 in Silver Spring Maryland