June 14, 2008

LaTourette, Commandant Coming to Town to Talk and Take Tour

By Shelley Terry, Star Beacon, Ashtabula, Ohio

Jun. 14--ASHTABULA -- Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen will travel Monday with Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Concord, to Coast Guard Stations Fairport and Ashtabula.

Allen, LaTourette and a representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington will meet with recreational boaters at the Fairport Harbor Senior Center and then on to Ashtabula to take a boat tour of the Ashtabula Harbor.

Allen will discuss boating safety, other issues and present awards at each station. He also will attend a luncheon and town hall meeting hosted by LaTourette with about 100 recreational boaters, and officials from coastal communities in northeast Ohio, to discuss an impending crisis in the recreational boating community.

A court ruling stemming from a lawsuit by West Coast environmental groups means as many as 18 million recreational boaters will need a costly pollution permit from the EPA by the end of September. The boats have been exempted from the discharge permits for more than 30 years under the Clean Water Act.

"The court ruling was ridiculous and the judge has effectively said if you have a recreational boat and water sloshes over the deck you need a pollution permit," LaTourette said. "This court ruling has put the EPA in a bind and may force it to issue permits."

LaTourette has introduced legislation to exempt recreational boaters from permits and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, introduced identical legislation in the Senate. Both bills are awaiting votes by the full House and Senate. If Congress fails to act by the end of September, the EPA will be forced to issue permits.

LaTourette, the ranking member of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, asked Allen to visit the district, tour the stations and meet with the boaters. It is the first time Allen has visited either stations and many years since any commandant has visited the stations.

"It is a tremendous honor to have the Commandant of the Coast Guard visit Fairport Harbor and Ashtabula, and this is huge for the men and women of the Coast Guard to meet their Commandant on their home turf," LaTourette said.

In 2007, the Coast Guard saved more than 5,000 lives, seized $4.7 billion worth of cocaine at sea, and interdicted about 6,000 migrants attempting to enter the country illegally. The President's budget request for fiscal year 2009, includes $9.3 billion for the Coast Guard.


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