Tell Michigan Gov. Snyder to VETO Repeal of Invasive Species Protections
Lawmakers in Michigan recently passed a bill that would weaken Michigan’s ballast water pollution standards, sending it Governor Rick Snyder. House Bill 5095 would effectively repeal the standards passed in 2005 with near unanimous bipartisan support, and leave us to rely exclusively on weaker federal standards for ballast water pollution. Freshwater Future responded with the following statement:
“Aquatic invasive species wreak havoc on Great Lakes waters, costing local and regional economies billions each year. The release of ballast water from oceangoing vessels has been undeniably a mode of entry for the most destructive invasives—including zebra and quagga mussels, round goby, and a variety of plant species. By lowering safeguards to weaker federal standards, Michigan lawmakers threaten the economic and ecological health and stability of the entire Great Lakes region.”
The direct threats of invasive species include preying on native species, out-competing native species for food or other resources, causing or carrying disease, and preventing native species from reproducing or killing a native species’ young.
HB 5095 strips away the Department of Environmental Quality’s requirement that ocean-going vessels docking at Michigan ports demonstrate that they will not introduce aquatic invasive species into Michigan waters, or that they use environmentally sound technologies to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species if they discharge ballast water. Instead, HB 5095 would require only that ships follow inadequate Coast Guard standards for ballast water to obtain a permit. Moreover, the U.S. Coast Guard technologies are not currently installed on any ocean-going vessels until the ships next dry docking schedule, which could be 3-5 years out from now, thus leaving Michigan waters unprotected from new introductions of invasive species in the interim.
As Great Lakes residents, many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems. Invasive species are virtually impossible to eradicate once established in our waterways, and mitigation efforts are costly and many times non-existent. Thus their effects are irreversible.
Read the official legislative analysis here for more detailed information on what changes the bill proposes.