July 20, 2005
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today issued a letter to Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, urging them to reject an incomplete and inadequate federal ballast water bill in favor of more comprehensive legislation to control and manage aquatic invasive species that plague the Great Lakes and other lakes and rivers nationwide.
S. 363, the Ballast Water Management Act of 2005, states that ships entering the Great Lakes would not have to meet any type of ballast water standards until at least 2016. Furthermore, it would exempt many ships from having to exchange ballast water prior to entering the Great Lakes, would exempt the discharge of pollutants from ballast water from regulation under the Clean Water Act, and would preclude Michigan from taking stronger action to protect our waters from invasive species.
“Michigan has taken a leadership role in protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species in ballast water, and it would be a dangerous precedent to have the federal government deny us the ability to follow through on those efforts,” said Granholm. “Aquatic invasive species are already costing the Great Lakes region over $5 billion per year in damages. It is clear that the Great Lakes simply cannot afford to wait any longer for us to take the available steps to protect them.”
In her letter, the Governor also voiced her support for competing legislation S. 770, the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act. S. 770 would provide a comprehensive partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard on ballast water management. These measures would protect the EPA’s Clean Water Act authority and provide needed tools to other agencies at both the federal and state level in an effort to prevent, detect, and respond to all invasive species, not just those transported by ballast water.
“There are already at least 162 invasive species in the Great Lakes, with more threatening to reach our waters every day,” continued Granholm. “S. 770 recognizes that in order to best combat this ever-growing threat, we must establish partnerships at all levels of government and work together to keep the Great Lakes safe. I am urging the Senate to support S. 770 and oppose S. 363 in order to give us those needed protections.”
Governor Granholm last month signed into law legislation that establishes a state permit program for ballast water discharges in Michigan’s waters. The bills passed through both chambers of the Legislature with a combined bi-partisan vote of 179-1, demonstrating the critical importance of this issue to Michigan.
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