National Wildlife Federation Sues EPA to Strengthen Protections Against Ballast Water Invaders

07-10-2013 // Jordan Lubetkin
Commercial Fishing Boat

The National Wildlife Federation is suing the U.S. EPA to force the agency to adopt measures that will effectively stop vessels discharging ballast water from introducing and spreading harmful aquatic invasive species. Ballast water invaders such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies have turned the Great Lakes ecosystem on its head, altering the food web and threatening the health of native fish and wildlife. Non-native ballast water invaders cost Great Lakes citizens, utilities, cities and businesses at least $200 million annually in damages and control costs.

The National Wildlife Federation initiated the lawsuit in United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The U.S. EPA issued a permit to regulate ballast water discharges in late April, the result of a long legal battle in which conservation organizations forced the federal agency to comply with the Clean Water Act. The ensuing permit, however, fails to protect U.S. waters from ballast water invaders.

Commenting on the lawsuit, Marc Smith, senior policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said:

“The EPA’s permit will not adequately protect the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters from ballast water invaders. This weak permit leaves the door open for future harm to our environment and economy. We can do better—and need to do better—if we are to protect our fish and wildlife and their habitat for future generations.”

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