Senate Bill Would Repeal Invasive Species Protections
Take action TODAY to ensure that Senate Democrats oppose the Motion to Proceed and allow negotiators more time to protect the Clean Water Act.
Senate Republicans may attempt to bring the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 to the floor as early as this week. In its current form, the bill exempts ballast water pollution from Clean Water Act protections.
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 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, preclude states from authorizing more stringent ballast water rules, and prevent citizens from challenging weak protections in court.
The Senate measure would follow movement in Michigan to lower the state’s strict ballast rules to weaker federal standards. Lowering safeguards at the state and federal levels opens up the Great Lakes to new, destructive threats to native ecosystems.
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. Invasive species are virtually impossible to eradicate once established in our waterways, and mitigation efforts are costly and sometimes non-existent.
Aquatic invasive species currently cost the United States $9 billion dollars per year in damage and control costs, including $6.4 billion for Zebra and Quagga mussels alone. Great Lakes states have faced a disproportionate impact from these unwelcome invaders, but regardless of where they originate, invasive species often spread throughout the continent.