Friday, December 2, 2011

Environmental Protection Agency FINALLY Starts to Rein In the Source for Destructive Invasive Species

This is the beginnings of some good news. It's kind of huge, in fact. And my hat goes off to the Obama administration for FINALLY moving forward with great lakes ballast water treatment regulations. Would I like to see it stricter? Yes. But it's a step in the right direction.

It's decades overdue. And it's going to immensely slow the introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes.

On Wednesday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency released a draft of a new rule that will require overseas ships visiting the lakes to eventually install treatment systems for ship-steadying ballast tanks. Contaminated ballast discharges are the preferred pathway for hitchhikers such as quagga mussels, zebra mussels, round gobies and dozens of the ecosystem-fouling invaders that have arrived since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened the lakes to deep-draft foreign vessels over a half-century ago.

Read more:

Am I thrilled that the EPA is giving shipping companies TWO YEARS to get their act together and install the treatment systems, while more and more exotic species could be getting dumped into the Great Lakes with every salt water ship?

No. I'm not thrilled. On the other hand, the shipping companies can't swing this change on a dime. They'll reasonably need some time to change over. Fine.

Yeah...they should have done it decades ago. But to be fair, the EPA and the Coast Guard should have demanded these changes decades ago. Had they enforced the laws that were in place, maybe we'd be in a different spot. It's not like there hasn't been years and years and years and years and years and years and years of warnings.

The BEST part of this bill? It doesn't restrict states from implementing their own, more stringent requirements on ballast which I issue my heartiest HA HA to the salt water shipping companies. Cuz if ANY state creates stricter guidelines, the ships have to conform to the strictest regulatory requirements.

Even if Wisconsin uses the minimum of Federal requirements it doesn't matter because the ships STILL have to go through New York's waters to get there, and New York is working on a bill that is ONE HUNDRED TIMES more strict that the International Maritime Organization standards.

If a ship doesn't conform to New York's standards...they're not getting through to Wisconsin. Tee hee. But New York is giving the shipping companies until 2016 to conform to THOSE rules.'s not like they're unreasonable.

For those who aren't sure what this is all about:

Saltwater vessels coming into the Great Lakes have been been bringing invasive species into these waters for half a century. The ships constantly need to change their ballast water as they load and unload cargo. It's like a floating million gallon aquarium, dumping critters from different ports into the great lakes.

It's been a disaster for the Great Lakes. Not just the Great Lakes, but every fresh water system that connects to the Great Lakes including the Mississippi River watershed (Which is only connecting the Great Lakes watershed though an artificial connection in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal). If you've got zebra mussels where you're living, you can thank lax and unenforced ballast water requirements.


Anonymous said...

Now the EPA plan wants to basically follow the international economic interest of the IMO for creating US environmental policy and still no National news coverage. Being involved in the sports fishing industry and knowing that it is believed that the VHS virus mutated from salt water to fresh while being transported in ballast systems along with cholera virus being found by the CDC in Haitian sea ports and fresh water, any plan that incorporates the IMO flush for any length of time is inadequate and dangerous. Environmentalist have spoken out against this latest EPA weak plan.
It is now Dec2011 and again another Coast Guard rummer ed deadline for their ballast water plan has passed. Currently this is causing Canada and the Great Lakes States health, environmental and economic concern, as New York and California's Senator Boxer's use of state rights has thwarted the introduction of strong reasonable national legislation. The commander and chief is ultimately in charge of the Military Coast Guard and their plans. It appears the goal will now be to wait and allow internal strife between the Great Lakes States effecting the whole countries economy in the hopes an international organization of diverse governments and business's (the IMO)will decide on a safe amount of human virus and bacteria they can dump in our waters while delivering foreign made products. These politician who are pushing for regulation reportedly 100 times greater than what the weak IMO goal, know that the strict standards they are looking for will never be agreed to in congress and, although the IMO regulations are far from adequate WATCH AND SEE if these super strong state regulations are not relinquished in favor of the IMO or a Coast Guard plan which follows the IMO lead. Louise Slaughter rep from NY, who voted for the strong legislation passed in the House during 2008 has already ask for the weaker Coast Guards regulations. Sadly this problem could have been solved, but NY decided to develop their own regulations in 2008 and did not push for the strong legislation H.R.2830 passed bi partisan in the House (395-7), while Senator Boxer killed the legislation allegedly over her states right to stronger legislation. She never did introduce an alternative after killing h.r.2830, which most environmentalist and many in the shipping industry reportedly supported. Now we have nothing adequate that environmentalist or the shipping industry support. Had President Obama pushed for strong legislation while his party had controlled of the Senate, House and presidency instead of a military delay plan the IMO would already be following much stronger goals to protect American waters, than what our Coast Guard has rummer ed they would someday present. Rumor now has it the IMO ballast water convention will be ratified coincidentally around the time New York delayed implementation of their regulations is to take affect .( 2013)
The Republicans are at least honest about it and have recently introduced bad ballast water legislation admitting they want foreign economic influence to determine America's environmental policy, regardless of the International Maritime Organization lousy track record for spreading invasive s such as Cholera, currently killing people all over the world. The majority elected during mid-term elections in the House voted for the stronger legislation in 2008.
The travesty is that strong national ballast water legislation would not only protect America's health and environment, but it would hurt the cheap price of foreign made goods. The following excerpt is from a report prepared for Congress in 2009 detailing the cost for ballast water technology:
"Most of this expense will be borne by
FOREIGN shipping companies, as the U.S. flag fleet is a small percentage of the global fleet,16 and
likely passed along to consumers of products imported on these ships.”
Products are manufactured were labor cost are lowest and the cost to deliver product to market are insignificant .

East Timor Legal News said...

More good news for the environment as the East Timor Council of Ministers begins consideration of a draft law on environmental protection. For more information on this, please go to the East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin entry for 04/12/2011. Many thanks. ETLJB