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Tuesday November 15, 2011 | 06:49 PM

The House today passed a bill that prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from treating minor discharges from small fishing boats like large-scale industrial pollution.

The legislation prohibiting the EPA from regulating small marine vessel discharges is part of a broader Coast Guard reauthorization bill.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, was a co-sponsor of a separate bill signed into law last year that placed a moratorium on EPA regulation of small boat discharges until the end of 2013. The EPA planned to start regulating small boat discharges last year under the Clean Water Act, according to Pingree’s office.

Pingree says the bill is good news for Maine fishermen and other operators of small commercial vessels under 79-feet.

“There is no need to require extensive permits for small boats that release gray water, have rain come off their decks, or make other discharges that the EPA says have no adverse environmental impacts,” Pingree said in a statement.  “This legislation addresses that unneeded level of regulation.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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