Coast Guard bill maintains core clean water protections, but makes it harder for states to secure more stringent protections
ANN ARBOR, MICH. —The National Wildlife Federation and state affiliates Indiana Wildlife Federation, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and Ohio Conservation Federation today thanked U.S. senators for standing up to maintain clean water protections to prevent non-native species from entering the Great Lakes and U.S. waters through ballast water discharge.
For years, the shipping industry and some members of Congress have worked to obliterate clean water protections to prevent so-called ballast water invaders that have wreaked havoc on the environment and economy.
Today the U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, which maintains many core clean water protections, while making it more difficult for states to enact protections that go beyond federal measures.
Earlier versions of the bill would have essentially eliminated current clean water protections, despite the ongoing invasion of non-native species: In the last four years, three new non-native species have been discovered in the Great Lakes, underscoring the need for stronger—not weaker—protections.
Reacting to the bill, the National Wildlife Federation and state affiliates Indiana Wildlife Federation, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, and Ohio Conservation Federation said:
“At a time when communities across the region are grappling with the environmental and economic devastation brought by aquatic invasive species, now is not the time to weaken clean water protections. We want to thank U.S. senators from the Great Lakes states for standing up for strong protections for the Great Lakes and the communities which rely on them. Earlier versions of this bill would have left the door open to future invasions. The current bill upholds many core protections to prevent future invasions.
“The communities and businesses which have had to bear the ongoing costs for invasive species deserve the strongest protections possible so that we can put an end to the serious threat. That’s why we remain committed to working with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to slam the door on invasive species and to protect the Great Lakes, our drinking water, jobs, and way of life.”
When foreign ships enter U.S. waters and discharge ballast water, they can release non-native species into the water, which then out-compete native species for food and habitat. Non-native invaders like zebra and quagga mussels upend the food web, damage water infrastructure, hurt outdoor recreation, and harm the economy. Ballast water invaders in the Great Lakes region cost at least $200 million per year in damages and control costs.
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