Federal Court Order Backs Pennsylvania
DEP Efforts to Control Invasive Species In Ballast Water
All American Patriots
Published April 5th, 2005
Coalition of States Had Petitioned Federal Government
for Stronger Action, Citing Ongoing Environmental, Economic
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Environmental
Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today announced
that a federal court has sided with Pennsylvania and the
six other Great Lakes states in striking down a U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that failed to control
the discharge of ballast water from oceangoing vessels.
Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota,
Ohio and Wisconsin filed an amicus brief in July 2004
to support a lawsuit that challenged EPA's exemption of
ballast water from federal Clean Water Act rules. In its
ruling Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California ordered EPA to repeal its ballast-water
"This is a tremendous victory for the economic and
environmental health of the Great Lakes ecosystem,"
Secretary McGinty said.
The vast majority of vessels on the Great Lakes do nothing
to inactivate or kill foreign invaders in their ballast
water and EPA has set no limits on ballast water discharges.
The states backed a lawsuit brought by groups opposing
EPA's exemption and petitioned the federal government
for stronger action to combat the environmental and economic
consequences that harmful invasive species can cause.
Many of these invasive species pose serious threats because
of their potential to foul industrial facilities and plug
public water supply intakes that draw from infested waters.
Invasive species even can interfere with the operation
of locks and dams on rivers, or damage boat hulls and
engines. Without natural predators, exotic species can
multiply at fantastic rates and overwhelm ecosystems,
removing organisms from the food chain that native species
depend on for survival.
Aquatic invasive species can damage and displace existing
recreational fisheries in Lake Erie, a very real economic
threat to Pennsylvania. A 2004 study by the Pennsylvania
Fish and Boat Commission suggests that anglers attracted
to the steelhead fishery in the northwestern part of the
state spent nearly $9.5 million on trip-related expenditures
in 2003. According to PFBC, this activity generates $5.71
million in new value-added activity in Erie County, supporting
219 jobs in the economy through direct and indirect effects.
Invasive species, such as zebra mussels, also present
more and more major water pollution challenges throughout
the country. The zebra mussel is native to the Caspian
Sea in Eastern Europe. They were introduced to this country
around 1985 when ocean-faring ships released infested
ballast water into the lower Great Lakes and their biological
activities of filtering and excretion have been identified
as possible links to outbreaks of botulism and increased
areas of hypoxia in Lake Erie.
DEP recently confirmed that zebra mussel adults and juveniles
have been found in Goodyear Lake, the first major impoundment
on the Susquehanna River's main stem below Canadarago
Lake in New York. This poses a serious ecological
and economic threat to the water resources and water
users downstream in the river and Chesapeake Bay.
Control and cleanup methods for zebra mussels are difficult,
expensive and generally unsuccessful. The best control
is to limit the spread of zebra mussels by cleaning boats
and equipment before and after use.
Adult zebra mussels can be found in other Pennsylvania
waters, including the Ohio River and lower portions of
the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Other occurrences
of zebra mussels have been reported from northwestern
Pennsylvania lakes such as Edinboro and Sandy lakes as
well as upper French Creek in Crawford County.
For more information, visit DEP's Web site at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/,
Keyword: "Water Quality."
CONTACT: Kurt M. Knaus of the Pennsylvania Department
of Environmental Protection, +1-717-787-1323.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection