Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Miller: National ballast water standards are long overdue

by Candice Miller on July 18, 2011

Editorial: Published: Friday, July 15, 2011 7:52 AM EDT
Miller: National ballast water standards are long overdue
U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller, a member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, earlier this week participated in a hearing focusing on options to improve current regulations governing ballast water and other incidental discharges to ensure the free flow of commerce, grow maritime jobs and protect the environment, according to a press release issued by Miller’s office.
The hearing was held jointly with the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and Miller made the following comments regarding the witnesses’ testimony and the imminent release of the U.S. Coast Guard’s report outlining new rules on ballast water:
“I have worked on the issues of invasive species for several decades, so the U.S. Coast Guards impending release of their new rules regarding ballast water discharge is welcome and long overdue,” Miller said. “These standards will be applied nationwide, but they are especially necessary to protect our magnificent Great Lakes which have been impacted so negatively by invasive species, such as the zebra mussels and the round goby. Michigan and several other Great Lakes States have passed their own laws regarding ballast water discharge standards and they are to be commended for that, but quite frankly the only real solution relies on strong national standards that apply uniformly in all U.S. waters.”
Miller’s release states that in order to maintain stability during transit, most ocean going vessels fill internal tanks with ballast water during the loading of cargo and then release it during unloading. Ballast water has long been recognized as one of several pathways by which invasive species are transported globally and introduced into coastal waters where they did not live before.
The discharge of ballast water and other substances from vessels are currently regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard under one federal law and by the EPA, 26 states, two Indian Tribes and a U.S. territory under another federal law. While it is critical to protect the environment from further aquatic invasive species, the current overlapping and contradictory patchwork of regulations hampers the flow of commerce, threatens international trade, unduly burdens vessel operations in U.S. waters, undermines job creation and hurts our economy.
We hope Miller and her fellow legislators continue to work on these issues and make them even better for the Great Lakes and all U.S. waters.

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