House could vote on ballast regulationThe U.S. House of Representatives appears close to finding a compromise on a ballast water law intended to prevent the Great Lakes from the sustained onslaught of freighter-borne invasive species.
By: By DAN EGAN/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Daily Telegram
The U.S. House of Representatives appears close to finding a compromise on a ballast water law intended to prevent the Great Lakes from the sustained onslaught of freighter-borne invasive species.
A coalition of conservation groups said late Wednesday that lawmakers were poised to vote today on the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007, which contains language requiring oceangoing vessels visiting the Great Lakes to treat their ballast water before discharging it.
Ballast water is used to steady a less-than-full cargo ship on open water. The problem is that water can be teeming with life, and those organisms can escape when ballast is discharged after a ship arrives in port.
Congress has been mulling a ballast bill for several years. The stall has led the state of Michigan to adopt its own ballast discharge legislation. Wisconsin and Minnesota are considering similar bills. The shipping industry acknowledges the problem and supports a nationwide ballast law, but it has strongly opposed individual state actions because it fears a state-by-state patchwork of potentially inconsistent rules could cripple the industry.
Conservationists agree that a uniform federal law is the best way to deal with the invasive species issue, and many are strongly supporting the measure the House is considering.
— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services