Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Week of March 7, 2011

Advocates reach invasive species deal with EPA

Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have reached a deal requiring tougher federal regulations for ships that dump ballast water in U.S. harbors, a leading way in which invasive species are spread.

Cargo ships often carry millions of gallons of water and sediments in ballast tanks to help keep vessels upright in rough seas. Ballast water teems with fish, bacteria and other organisms that are released as freight is taken on in port. Many of the foreign species spread rapidly, starve out native competitors and upset the ecological balance. Invaders such as zebra mussels cause billions of dollars each year in damage and economic losses.

EPA issued a 2008 permit requiring shippers to exchange their ballast water at sea or, if the tanks were empty, rinse them with salt water before entering U.S. territory. About a dozen environmental groups sued, contending the requirement was too weak and violated the federal Clean Water Act.

Under the settlement announced Tuesday, EPA will issue a new industry-wide permit limiting the number of live organisms in ballast water — a step that will require shippers to install sterilization equipment. The rule will apply to commercial ships over 79 feet long, exempting recreational and military craft.

The agency will release a draft for public comment by Nov. 30 and a final version within a year from then. It would give the industry an extra year to equip their vessels....

The U.S. Coast Guard also is developing regulations limiting the number of live organisms in ballast water, which are expected to be released by the end of April. At least a dozen states have rules or laws dealing with ballast water....

Read the full story at link.


1 comment:

Don M said...

Coast Guard interest, as a mission, for enforcement is needed for any Federal agency regulations to matter. The Coast Guard was supposed to be releasing new standard in April 2011, which they confirmed in a statement, again announcing delay as Dec 2010 was the original scheduled for an announcement.
After Senator Boxer killed ballast water legislation passed by the House 395-7 the President as commander and chief has ignored the call from the house for legislation in favor of the alternative military plan for more study, delaying any meaningful action from being carried out for the last three years. NY backed off on their instituted regulations set for implementation in the election year 2012, as a results of "foreign shipping pressure". California has been reported to have backed off from Senator Boxer's frivolous call for stronger Regulations. Now the EPA is talking 2013.
Environmentalist who believe that meaningful regulations are this administrations goal after the presidential elections in 2012, should be aware of the trend of action: Asian Carp, inadequet action to stop spread. Illinois economic interest considered in favor of all Great Lakes states, misleading information issued on Gulf spill, with environmental damage from experimental dispersant used to hide oil (by those calling the shots). Even disinterest to enforce the Clean Water Act, by the Coast Guard preventing ship movement of tar balls to Lake Pontchartrain, this history of deceit and inaction should be the indicators of why ballast water is again being addressed with rhetorical promises prior to the presidential election of 2012.