Bill on ballast water would threaten Great Lakes, environmentalists say

11-03-2011 // Tina Lam

This excerpt is from Detroit Free Press.

Environmental regulators in New York have adopted a tough new standard requiring shippers to treat ballast water. That standard, which doesn’t take effect until 2013, effectively covers the entire lake system, since virtually all ships must pass through New York waters to get to other ports. Michigan adopted its own standard in 2007, requiring shippers to have permits showing they’ve treated their ballast water. Shippers challenged the law unsuccessfully, but it only applies to ships entering Michigan ports.

Shippers say New York’s standard would cost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs for the industry; environmental groups and agencies say invasive species cost $200 million a year in damage to the lakes.

House Bill 2838 would exempt shippers from state laws such as New York’s, instead relying on an international ballast water cleanup standard 100 times weaker than New York’s. Experts say the lower standard won’t keep invasives out. Shippers say they shouldn’t have to deal with individual states’ standards, which might all be different, and that technology doesn’t exist yet to meet New York’s standard.

“This is a bill to protect the shipping industry, not the Great Lakes,” said Jordan Lubetkin, spokesman for the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation.

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