‘Historic’ Ballast Water Bill Passes House: Bill Contains Most Stringent Standards Ever

shusterich

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The House of Representatives today passed the world’s toughest invasive species control measures. The bipartisan legislation, which was endorsed by a broad cross section of Great Lakes organizations, creates a historic opportunity to address one of the most vexing issues facing the Great Lakes, and our Nation’s waterways.

The legislation, H.R. 2830, sponsored by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and supported by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), ranking Republican on the Coast Guard subcommittee, was endorsed both by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, an association of shipping companies, labor organizations, shipyards and ports, plus a coalition of environmental groups, including Great Lakes United, National Wildlife Federation, Healing Our Waters Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy.

"This bipartisan bill is historic because it has passed the House overwhelmingly and because it is endorsed by a broad cross-section of Great Lakes interests, from shipping companies to environmental groups," said Patrick J. O'Hern , President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, an organization representing most shipping interests on the Great Lakes. "This legislation is tough but fair - this problem is big enough that it needs a tough response."

"The passage of this legislation is a watershed moment for the Great Lakes," said Dr. Marc Gaden, Legislative Liaison for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the binational agency that manages many federal invasive species programs. "Most importantly, the bill is designed to protect the Great Lakes from new invaders introduced by ocean-going vessels. Building upon the initiative that Lakers-those ships that do not leave the Lakes-have taken voluntarily, this bill also provides for an emergency response to interlake movement of organisms. We urge the Senate to complete the job and pass its legislation immediately."

Among other requirements, the bill imposes the most stringent ballast water standards ever - standards that are 100 times tougher than existing international standards. An Environmental Protection Agency official recently said that the standards in the bill are far tougher than what the Agency could impose under existing law.

The ballast water legislation is part of a comprehensive Coast Guard budget bill. It first passed a House Committee more than a year ago but has been stalled over a range of issues, including disputes related to the ballast water title.

The Senate’s Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee has approved roughly similar legislation (S. 1578), but that bill has yet to pass the full Senate. S. 1578 is sponsored by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

For more information contact:

Glen G. Nekvasil
Secretary, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force
info@glmtf.org