Mich. attorney general continues fight over ballast water, Great Lakes

Atty. Gen. Mike Cox goes to court to compel EPA's regulation of ballast water with four other Great Lakes states in support...

LANSING, MI, May 10, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Mich. Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that he has taken another step in his continuing effort to protect the Great Lakes environment and economy from harmful aquatic nuisance species. On Friday, Cox and five Great Lakes attorneys general filed a motion in federal district court to intervene in litigation seeking to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ballast water discharges under the Clean Water Act.

"My office will continue the fight to protect Michigan's greatest treasure," Cox said. "Together with other Great Lakes States, we are committed to guarding this precious resource."

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco ordered the EPA to reverse its 30-year policy of exempting ballast water discharges from the Act. Friday's motion would grant the regional attorneys general formal party status in the case, allowing them to actively participate in the remedy phase of the trial, and if necessary, any appeals.

"The Great Lakes States have unique interests that must be represented, including when the regulation of ballast water discharges will begin and the scope of the EPA's efforts," Cox said.

When large oceangoing vessels enter the Great Lakes and load their cargo, they discharge ballast water carried from other ports. This water may contain aquatic nuisance species, which wreak havoc on the ecosystem and reproduce rapidly in the absence of natural predators and diseases in their new environment.

Aquatic nuisance species such as the zebra mussel, sea lamprey, ruffe and goby not only threaten the Great Lakes, but also pose a significant economic threat to the State of Michigan. Commercial and recreational fishing, boating, beaches, tourism and facilities, such as power plants that use water from the Great Lakes, all suffer from the effects of these species.

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that controlling zebra mussels and sea lampreys -- two of the most harmful aquatic nuisance species -- costs $45 million each year.

For more information on this topic, see: EPA Rulemaking Petition Related to Ballast Water.

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