EPA's Vessel General Permits: Background and Issues [August 28, 2015]   [open pdf - 655KB]

"In November 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two Clean Water Act (CWA) permits to regulate certain types of vessel discharges into U.S. waters. The proposed permits would replace a single Vessel General Permit (VGP) issued in 2008 that was due to expire in December 2013. As proposed, the permits would apply to approximately 71,000 large domestic and foreign vessels and perhaps as many as 138,000 small vessels. This universe of regulated entities is diverse as well as large, consisting of tankers, freighters, barges, cruise ships and other passenger vessels, and commercial fishing vessels. Their discharges are similarly diverse, including among other pollutants aquatic nuisance species (ANS), nutrients, pathogens, oil and grease, metals, and toxic chemical compounds that can have a broad array of effects on aquatic species and human health, many of which can be harmful. […] Congressional interest in this topic has been evident for some time. In 2008 Congress enacted two bills to exempt certain vessels from a CWA permit requirement, thus restricting the population of vessels subject to the VGP. One was a permanent permit moratorium for recreational vessels of all sizes. The other act was a temporary permit moratorium for small commercial vessels and commercial fishing vessels, which was extended twice by Congress and would have expired December 18, 2014, had Congress not enacted an additional three-year extension in S. 2444. In the 114th Congress, bills addressing the temporary permit moratorium for small vessels and regulation of ballast water discharges have been introduced (S. 373/H.R. 980 and S. 371). The Senate Commerce Committee approved S. 373 in February; the committee also included provisions of this bill in S. 1611."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42142
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