Thursday, December 6, 2012

Controversial Provision On Ballast Water Removed From Funding Bill

Dec 5: Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Co-chair of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, in a release said she "celebrated the defeat of flawed federal ballast water legislation that endangered the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes." The House of Representatives agreed with the Senate amendments to HR2838, which will fund the U.S. Coast Guard for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. When originally considered, Rep. Slaughter said the legislation included a controversial proposal to set a nationwide standard for the discharge of ballast water. Such a standard would have prevented states like New York from enforcing more stringent ballast water standards and effectively protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species. As a result, Slaughter voted against the original legislation and offered an amendment removing the language from the bill. Although her original amendment failed in the House, the controversial proposal was removed before the passage of the bill.

    Rep. Slaughter said, "In this time of Congressional gridlock, I was pleased to work with my colleagues across the aisle to protect the Great Lakes. Previously proposed standards would have prevented New York and other states from effectively fighting invasive species like Asian Carp, which cost taxpayers billions. The Great Lakes provide 20% of the world's fresh water and directly support over 1.5 million jobs, generating $62 billion in wages every year. For those of us who live on its shores, we must be able to set effective standards to protect this valuable economic and natural treasure."

    In November 2011, Slaughter joined a bipartisan coalition and wrote to Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, to urge the implementation of alternative standards that would provide states like New York flexibility to protect their waters. The Coast Guard's final rule was published on March 23, 2012 in the Federal Register, and became effective 90 days after publication on June 21, 2012. The bill will now return to the Senate, where it is expected to be cleared for enactment.

    Access a release from Rep. Slaughter and link to her letter and additional information (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.2838 (click here).

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