It looks like 68,000 commercial fishermen can take a long, deep sigh of relief. That's how many fishermen would have been affected by the Environmental Protection Agency's pollution regulation with the long-winded title Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 feet. The shortened version is sVGP.
The regulation was designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coast and in the Great Lakes. But yesterday afternoon — Dec. 10 — that requirement was put on hold when Congress passed the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2014, which included a three-year extension of the moratorium on vessel discharge permitting. The moratorium was due to expire Dec. 18.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had pushed for a permanent moratorium but that effort didn't succeed.
Enactment of the sVGP would have required things such as annual inspections, plenty of paper work and the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants in all machinery that might discharge the lubricant into the water.
That last requirement could be expensive. It's estimated that environmentally acceptable lubricants can cost $1,200 for 100 liters versus $350 for regular lubricants.
Now that's something fishermen won't have to worry about — at least for three years. That assumes President Obama signs the bill and there's no reason to think he won't.