Freshwater Weekly 11/9/17
This week: help stop invasive species + Lake Erie Algae watch + more ways you can make a difference.
PAIR OF BILLS WOULD WEAKEN INVASIVE SPECIES LAWS
Weakening Ballast Water Protection Standards at the State & Federal Levels
Ships use ballast water to provide stability and balance while in transit, and invasive species can hitch a ride to new locations as ships discharge ballast into new waters. Currently, we rely on both state and federal law to regulate the discharge of untreated ballast water and prevent the spread of invasive species to the Great Lakes, but two pending bills could significantly weaken the existing protections.
Michigan Legislature Rolls Back Ballast Water Standards; Sends Bill to Governor
Last week we told you about a bill being considered by Michigan’s legislature that would weaken the state’s ballast water protections. Unfortunately, despite the outcry from Freshwater Future supporters like you, House Bill 5095 passed the Michigan House by a vote of 66-42 and the Senate by a vote of 25-11. The bill would effectively repeal the standards passed in 2005 with near unanimous bipartisan support, leaving us to rely exclusively on weaker federal standards for ballast water pollution.
You don’t have to be a Michigan resident to take action! Click here to tell Governor Snyder that we can’t afford to weaken our standards. Ask him to veto this bill.
US Senate Bill Would Exempt Ballast Water Pollution From Clean Water Act
As Michigan moves to lower ballast water standards to those at the federal level, the Senate may take up a bill that further weakens the existing federal standards. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 exempts ballast water pollution from Clean Water Act protections, and Senate Republicans may bring it to the floor this week.
Currently under the Clean Water Act, the EPA and Coast Guard have integrated national standards that states may choose to make more protective. If enacted, the bill would transfer regulatory authority from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Coast Guard, block states from creating more stringent ballast water rules, and prevent citizens from challenging weak protections in court.
Aquatic invasive species currently cost the United States $9 billion dollars per year in damage and control costs. Great Lakes communities, businesses, and citizens affected by this damage cannot afford further ecological and financial burden.
Ballast pollution regulations must be maintained. Learn more about this bill—and contact your Senator—on our blog.
LAKE ERIE ALGAE WATCH
Algae season is over, and it was a pretty bad one. On a scale of 1 to 10, this year’s bloom was an 8, which is classified as severe. While not as toxic as some years, the toxic algal bloom covered an area of 1000 square miles (2590 sq km) from Toledo to the Ontario coast.
Progress toward reducing the runoff pollution that fuels these annual algal blooms has been slow, and it’s going to take stronger, more urgent action to clean up Lake Erie. Freshwater Future is working hard to make sure that governments, cities, and farmers are doing their part to protect the drinking water source for 11 million Canadians and Americans. We’ll keep pushing for better solutions, and we’ll be sure to let you know about opportunities to add your voice.