Sep 04, 2007

Ballast Water Legislation in Jeopardy

On Friday, WWEMA President Dawn Kristof Champney issued letters to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Environment & Public Works Committee calling for immediate action on ballast water discharge legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

Globally, it is estimated that more than 10,000 marine species each day may be transported across the oceans in the ballast water of cargo ships accounting for an estimated $5 billion a year in damages and control costs. “These alien species carried in ships’ ballast tanks create major disruptions in our aquatic ecosystems and commercial fish harvest,” she noted.

Ballast water management legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 2830) has already passed the Committee on Public Works and Transportation and is awaiting floor action. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate (S. 1578) but was recently removed from consideration in the Senate Commerce Committee due to Clean Water Act jurisdictional issues and states’ rights. “It is impossible for a ship, that may sail between ports in half a dozen states, to meet six, or more, conflicting state legislated treatment standards. For the same reasons, it is imperative that this legislation be the sole federal law regulating the treatment of ballast water,” Champney explained.

As the WWEMA met with the majority and minority staffs of the Senate Commerce Committee, they were told that Senators were only hearing from the environmental community about the bill. As a result, they are urging stakeholders to remind their senators about the need for legislation creating a single, uniform, national standard governing ballast water discharges.