US ballast water bill blocked

The US Coast Guard Reauthorisation Bill has failed to win a key procedural vote in the US Senate, according to reports from Detroit, which abuts the Great Lakes. Both of Michigan’s US senators were said to have voted against the bill in request to limit debate on it.

The measure has now been proposed, but failed to pass, in successive Congresses. It was backed by Lakes shippers and other maritime groups as providing them with more certainty, instead of being forced to meet multiple standards for ballast water discharges set up by individual US states.

However, environmental groups argued that the legislation as written eliminated Clean Water Act protections over ship discharges and could have resulted in weaker standards set mainly by the Coast Guard instead of by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chicago-based environmental group The Alliance for the Great Lakes said that this meant that Clean Water Act protections would “continue to apply to ballast water discharges, which are the main pathway for aquatic invasive species introductions into the Great Lakes”.