Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Michigan's new ballast law is a step forward
Port Huron Times-Herald
Published January 5, 2007

Regulation defends Great Lakes against invasive species

All those who believe in stronger environmental protections for the Great Lakes should look to Michigan. A new state law takes an unprecedented step in protecting those waters against invasive species.

Since the 1980s, zebra mussels have wreaked havoc in the Great Lakes. The damage the mollusk caused is costs hundreds of millions in tax dollars each year.

The irony is the source of the threat is well known. Freighters need the weight of ballast water - a combination of sediment, seaweed and water - to maintain their stability. Oceangoing freighters inadvertently deliver the mollusk to the Great Lakes through their ballasts.

Now, Michigan officials have taken steps to end the invasion.

The law, which took effect Monday, requires salt-water freighters that stop at any Michigan port to pay $150 a year for a ballast permit. The ships can comply either by not releasing their ballast water or by treating it with biocides that eliminate any potential invaders before the water goes into the Great Lakes.

The law is a welcome precedent. Michigan is the first state to enact such a statute, and it undoubtedly is sending a message to the shipping industry.

As important as this new legislation is, it still is a step rather than a solution. Michigan is only one of several states that share the Great Lakes. Although those other states are hoping the new law stands, it is almost certain to be challenged.

The new fee and restrictions appear modest, but some shipping company is likely to argue they still are burdensome to commerce.

There also are practical questions. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards monitor ballast-water exchanges. If a freighter respects the statute while it navigates Michigan's portion the Great Lakes, what happens when it travels through waters governed by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania or New York?

The truth, though, is as hopeful as Michigan's new ballast law obviously is, Congress, not individual states, should be the one to enact legislation. Beyond the practical concerns of enforcing such a law, the federal government also is in a far better position to win Canada's cooperation. Either through international treaty or national legislation, it's obvious both nations have a vested interest in protecting the Great Lakes from the zebra-mussel threat. The future of these precious bodies of water demands it.

There is no foolproof method for the treatment of ballast water. Preventing its release into the Great Lakes is the best way to safeguard water quality.

While the International Maritime Organization is developing regulations to hold shipping companies to ballast laws, Michigan's statute already is in force.

Granted, it falls short of a comprehensive standard that protects all the Great Lakes. However, it does send the right message.

For decades Great Lakes waters have been exposed to zebra mussels. At least one state is attempting to apply a remedy.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map