Compromise sought on ballast water bills
By Ellyn Ferguson
Green Bay Press-Gazette
Posted November 2, 2007
WASHINGTON — Seven Great Lakes lawmakers are urging Senate leader Harry Reid to aid the region's fight against invasive aquatic species by finding a compromise between competing bills to regulate the discharge of ships' ballast water into the freshwater lakes.
In a letter, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, and six colleagues said discharge from ships is a key way aquatic organisms enter the Great Lakes and must be controlled. Ships use ballast water for stability and frequently release the water when in port.
The five Democrats and two Republicans back legislation by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., but the bill headed to the floor is the Ballast Water Management Act by Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Commerce Committee. Levin is one of the letter signers.
Environmental groups, lawmakers and Wisconsin's attorney general oppose provisions in Inouye's bill they say would exempt the discharges from the Clean Water Act and pre-empt states' ability to enforce their own anti-pollution laws.
The letter writers said those are "concerns about the legislation that need to be addressed prior to the Senate's consideration of the bill."