Monday, January 3, 2011

New York to Implement Hard Core Ballast Water Restrictions: Environmentalists Cheer. Shipping Companies Cry

I gotta say, I love this new environmental law that may be implemented by the state of New York: higher ballast water regulations for ocean-faring vessels

a rule promulgated by New York's Department of Environmental Conservation that sets what many in the maritime industry consider an impossibly high standard for the purity of the ballast water carried by ships. The goal of the regulation is to curtail the introduction of harmful non-native fish and other organisms that disrupt the ecological balance of the Great Lakes.

Interlake's ships stay in the Great Lakes, but enforcement of the regulation would prevent passage into and out of the Great Lakes by any ship that doesn't meet the standard, labor leaders, port directors and shippers say. Failure to meet the standard would prevent ships from entering New York waters; that includes locks that ocean- going vessels must transit on their way to and from the Great Lakes.

Considering this is the largest thoroughfare for introducing new and destructive species into the Great Lakes, this is a fantastic move.

Of course the shipping companies are having fits about it, and I take those fits seriously. Shipping on the Great Lakes and access to international shipping from harbors in Great Lakes states is a draw for many manufacturers and businesses in the area that's already hit by high unemployment and a shrinking manufacturing base, with a U6 unemployment level of over 20% in Michigan.

I'd hate to see the region's economic situation hurt even further from this type of law...though considering the amount we spend on battling invasive species (see the previous blog entry) from quagga and zebra mussels to sea lamprey, it may in the long run cost us more to allow these ships through than we get from economic activity.

I would like to see some Federal or state help for the shipping industries to comply with stricter regulations if in fact it turns out they really can't afford to comply. We gotta make 'em squirm first, though. Those that can afford to comply will get to be the dominant shipping companies in the region...and in the long run, we'll shut off the leading vector for invasive species.


Don M said...

Predictably, it looks as though NY is slowly trying to save face and back down on ballast water despite the money spent creating and defending these laws, illustrated by the 2012 date for compliance reportedly extended by a year and a half. Odd when I wrote to Governor Paterson in 2008 about H.R.2830 and how our state would be represented, a Mr. Tierney from the NY DEC wrote back to me by US mail, on the Governors behalf claiming how great this state ballast legislation would be in comparison to H.R.2830 which would have been well under way by now. I wrote Mr. Tierney back, expressing concern on how they planed on enforcing these State laws, but never received an answer.
Senator Boxer subsequently killed legislation H.R.2830 for the whole country back in 2008, while the three top officials of this administration were all Senators. She allegedly believed it to weak for her states rights. Now California is backing down from her position as well as NY is backing down because the stricter laws can not be met??? "according to the shipping industry"? So now three years later all we have is a still purposed plan being concocted by the military, which so far appears as little more than following the international Maritime Organization lead of delay.
Our politicians need to act mandating technology other than the ocean flushing, which only uses dilution as the solution for pollution. Flushing dose not address all problems associated by ballast discharges. Just using salinity alone dose not address ocean invasive's and other substances such as tar balls that can also be taken on during ocean flushing. Human health will continue being at risk and destruction of our waters will continue as shipping traffic continues to increase if our politicians do not start acting prudently.

Don M said...

Anyone who follows the history of ballast water should realize that after Senator Boxer killed legislation in 2008 passed in the House 395-7, to protect us from ballast water our politicians have been caving in to foreign shipping which constitutes the majority of flag ships in US waters. They currently have discussions going on in Congress concerning the economic problems this would create for shipping. California's action reversing their stance for tough regulations despite Senator Boxers claim that the legislation she killed for the whole country was not strong enough, points out the political game they are playing with American health an environment. Not a single piece of new legislation has been introduced in Congress by either party since, and the EPA had to be sued to even address the idea of creating a standard. Our President as commander and chief, three years after allegedly supporting congressional legislation in 2008 has done nothing but allow a continuous delay on Coast Guard standards, the latest being a delay to "correlate" ( after the next presidential election) with a yet undeveloped EPA standard. New York's governor, as attorney general developed their purposed tough standards and has now delayed them in conjunction. It is about our dependence on foreign manufactured products to bolster our economy, and sadly although America was capable of putting a man on the moon, because shipping interest say that: " technology is not out there " significant action will probably never be taken. What ever weak action is taken environmentalist will have to accept and new shipping investments to develop a fix for the problem will be minimal as they know the political will is gone the same as many of the politicians who did care, Granholm, Schwarzenegger, Patterson, Strickland, Oberstar, etc. Interesting with the political help of our President, Senator Boxer the person responsible for killing national ballast water legislation was reelected. Not surprising since the issue of ballast water is never public-ally broad cast by the news media, despite the severe affects the way it is handled will affect both, Americans and the worlds health and environment forever. The ironic travesty will be the way some who claim to care about environmental stewardship along with the shipping interest will portray weak action with respect and decorum as a great achievement, further destroying a chance for future significant actions. Shipping has won as this problem is not even close to being solved.