Invasive species, like zebra mussels and round gobies, have wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes. Brought in via ballast water tanks on ocean-going ships, invasive species out-compete native species and destroy habitat. They also cost people in Great Lakes communities hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
It took two acts of Congress, a lawsuit, and states passing their own rules to get federal requirements for actual ballast water treatment systems onboard ships starting in 2008. But even after the U.S. EPA and Coast Guard started that process, excessively long timelines for phasing in the regulations mean most ships on the Great Lakes still do not have ballast water treatment systems installed.
Why has it taken so long for Congress and federal agencies to act? The cargo shipping industry fought for special treatment and exemptions from U.S. law over and over. And it is happening again.
Congress is considering legislation that would roll back ballast cleanup rules. And that’s very bad news for the Great Lakes.
Tell your legislators to protect the Great Lakes by opposing the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), which has been tacked on to the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act.