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Great Lakes Article:

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 so.

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 the case.

Ocean-going ships take on ballast water in far-off lands for stability, then dump it in Michigan waters as they load cargo.

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.

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