MUCC applauds passage of ballast water legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed federal legislation that will regulate ballast water rules for ocean-going vessels in the Great Lakes, a major step in protecting against aquatic invasive species, which have harmed the Great Lakes ecosystems and its fishery, and cost its citizens, businesses, and cities hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Michigan United Conservation Clubs commended passage of the legislation, noting that regulation of ballast water is long overdue...

• Long awaited federal measure will help protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species

LANSING, MI, April 24, 2008 -- The U.S. House of Representatives has passed crucial federal legislation that will regulate ballast water rules for ocean-going vessels in the Great Lakes. This was Congress' first major step in protecting the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species, which have harmed the Great Lakes ecosystems and its fishery, and cost its citizens, businesses, and cities hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

"On behalf of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, I want to thank the U.S. House and our Michigan delegation for their leadership in accomplishing this initial victory in the battle to minimize the impact of aquatic invasive species on the Great Lakes," said MUCC Executive Director Dennis Muchmore. "These foreign aquatic invaders have been destroying our unique Great Lakes ecosystem, our sport fishery, our tourism economy and our communities for far too long -- regulation of ballast water is long overdue."

Frustrated with the lack of action on the federal level, Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) was heavily involved in helping the Michigan legislature create the first ballast water regulation in the nation in 2005, which enacted legislation to prohibit ocean-going vessels from discharging ballast water into Michigan's waters without necessary permits. The shipping industry sued the state over this law, but a Federal District Court upheld the statute in August of 2007. On the heels of this decision, the U.S. House's action today in passing federal ballast water regulations is the first major step at the federal level in protecting the Great Lakes from further influx of aquatic invasive species.

The ballast regulations were included in The Ballast Water Management Act, which is part of The Coast Guard Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2830), introduced by Congressman Oberstar (D-MN). H.R. 2830 passed by a vote of 395-7, including unanimous support from Michigan U.S. House members.

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