Thursday, July 11, 2013

NWF Sues EPA Over Weak Ballast Water General Permit

Jul 10: The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) announced that it 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. NWF indicated in a release that 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.

    NWF initiated the lawsuit in United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. EPA issued a permit to regulate ballast water discharges in late April [See WIMS 3/28/13 & WIMS 3/29/13], the result of a long legal battle in which conservation organizations forced the Federal agency to comply with the Clean Water Act. NWF says the ensuing permit, however, fails to protect U.S. waters from ballast water invaders.

    Marc Smith, senior policy manager for NWF 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."

    On March 28, 2013, when EPA announced the final vessel general permit which covers commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length, excluding military and recreational vessels, and will replace the 2008  permit on December 19, 2013, when the old permit expires. EPA said the permit regulates 27 specific discharge categories, and will also provide improvements to the efficiency of the permit process, and clarify discharge requirements (see link below for details).

     Access a release from NWF (click here). Access EPA's overall Vessel Discharge website for more information(click here). [#Water, #GLakes]

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