Local pressure needed for action
on invasive species
Port Clinton News Herald
A recent decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency provides strong evidence of why it's important
for local officials to keep the pressure on for federal
action against invasive species.
The EPA has said that it won't require permits for ships
discharging ballast water despite complaints that the
discharges are introducing invasive species in the Great
Lakes and elsewhere.
The EPA said the U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction over
ships that discharge ballast water. Right now, the Coast
Guard requires ships to discharge ballast water before
entering U.S. ports, but compliance is voluntary.
In 1999, the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center and
other environmental groups asked the EPA to regulate ballast
water discharges under the Clean Water Act. But the EPA
said ballast water is considered "discharge incidental
to the normal operation of a vessel" and therefore
not subject to permits.
The EPA also said requiring permits would be impractical,
since there are more than 78,000 commercial cargo ships
and 110,000 commercial fishing ships docking in U.S. ports
The EPA may have made the right decision, but coupled
with the lack of enforcement of the Coast Guard requirement,
it provides clear evidence that our lakes are not being
protected from species that are potentially dangerous
to our economy and our quality of life.
Bills now before Congress would give the EPA and the
Coast Guard dual authority over ballast water.
One would spend more to research invasive species such
as the zebra mussel, which he says has cost Great Lakes
states' economy billions of dollars over the past decade.
Research could be critical if lawmakers want to convince
the federal government to control ballast water discharge.
And pressure from home could be critical, too.