Editorial: A Great Lakes border blockade
Grand Rapids Press
Published April 18, 2005
There has been a lot of recent discussion about guarding
the nation's borders against terrorists, appropriately
Yet the federal government for 32 years has ignored another
foreign threat: invasive plants and animals that have
hurt the Great Lakes and Michigan's economy.
Now a federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the
Environmental Protection Agency to stop these foreign
species that stow away in the ballast holds of large ships
from being dumped into our waters.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled that the EPA
must immediately repeal rules that exempt ballast water
from regulation under the Clean Water Act. The judge is
on sound legal ground: The federal Clean Water Act of
1973 calls for any discharge into a lake or river to be
treated as necessary to protect the water and its ecosystem.
The new decision arose out of complaints from environmental
groups about ballast dumping off the California Coast,
but the Great Lakes stand to benefit. That is why Michigan
Attorney General Michael Cox filed an amicus brief in
Ocean-going ships take on ballast water in far-off lands
for stability, then dump it in Michigan waters as they
The ballast contains non-native plants and animals that
throw the environment off-kilter and cost billions of
dollars a year.
Yet the EPA has obstinately resisted action against the
growing list of over 160 lake invaders. This ruling is
a wake-up call. The EPA must stop the incursion. Judge
Illston ordered a meeting between the parties in the suit.
The EPA should take the opportunity to stop its unreasonable
battle against regulating ballast water and start figuring
out the best way to do it.