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E-M:/ state action on invasive species



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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Contact:                                                        For 
immediate release:
NY - Marc Violette, 518-473-5525                                July 15, 2004
Illinois - Melissa Merz, 312-814-3118
Michigan - Robert McCann, 517-335-7217
Minnesota - Leslie Sandbar, 651-296-2069
Ohio - Pat Madigan, 614-644-2782
PA - Kurt Klaus, 717-787-1323
Wisconsin - Deirdre Morgan or Brian Rieselman, 608-266-7876

GREAT LAKES STATES URGE ACTION ON AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES

COALITION OF STATE OFFICIALS CITE ONGOING ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC DAMAGES

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today announced a coordinated 
effort by seven states to combat the problem of harmful invasive species in 
American waterways, including the Great Lakes.

The states, led by New York and including Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, 
Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are calling for stronger action to control 
discharges of ballast water from oceangoing vessels, a practice identified 
as the chief cause of the problem.

"Ballast water ought to be considered a significant pollutant," Spitzer 
said."The exotic species of fish, mussels and plants contained in these 
discharges multiply at fantastic rates and overwhelm our ecosystem."

"The federal government can and must be more aggressive in combating this 
problem, which each year costs Great Lakes communities billions of dollars 
in damages."

As part of the coordinated effort, the states today filed a petition with 
the United States Coast Guard to revise ballast water management 
regulations.  Ballast water -- used to balance large oceangoing ships 
--  often contains non-native animals and plants picked up at previous 
ports of call.  Although Congress has mandated that the Coast Guard ensure 
that all ships with ballast tanks manage the ballast water so that viable 
invasive species are not discharged, current Coast Guard rules exempt most 
ships from such requirements.  The petition asks the Coast Guard to close 
this loophole.

In addition, the states have filed a "friend of the court" brief in a key 
court case challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency's 
decision to exempt ballast water discharges from federal water pollution 
rules. The states maintain that the EPA's exemption violates the Clean 
Water Act's prohibition on discharge of pollution from vessels and creates 
another loophole.

According to the petition, the vast majority of vessels on the Great Lakes 
do nothing to inactivate or kill foreign invaders in their ballast water 
and the EPA has set no limits on ballast water discharges.  While the 
states' action focuses on the Great Lakes, invasive species present a major 
water pollution problem throughout the country.

The harm caused by invasive species such as the zebra mussels, Eurasian 
water milfoil, round goby and spiny water flea in the Great Lakes is 
widespread. For example, utilities annually spend tens of millions of 
dollars to combat zebra mussel infestations, which clog water intake 
valves.  Milfoil chokes many recreational waterways, requiring either 
expensive "mowing" of the weed or chemical treatment that has unintended 
consequences.

State officials noted that there are many technologies, either in use or in 
various stages of development, that can help prevent introduction of 
invasive species. These include flow-through exchange, de-oxygenation, 
filtration and UV treatment.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said: "Aquatic species from foreign 
waters like zebra mussels and lampreys are pollutants and should be 
regulated as such.  These non-native animals and plants cause economic and 
environmental harm that may not be as visible - but is just as dangerous - 
as the industrial toxic waste that polluted Lake Michigan in past 
decades.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's failure to protect the 
Great Lakes from these invaders is no different than looking the other way 
while someone dumps poison into our water."

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester said: 
"Michigan is pleased to sign the petition. As part of this environmental 
partnership, we're committed to preventing invasive species from finding 
their way into the Great Lakes, and the U.S. Coast Guard must now 
demonstrate a similar commitment."

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Christopher Jones said: "The 
Coast Guard already has clear authority to act on the ballast water issue. 
That authority stems from a recognition by Congress of the extensive harm 
caused by the introduction of non-native species, not only to the ecosystem 
itself but to the bottom line of communities, businesses and recreational 
venues that are forced to spend millions of dollars combating these 
invaders. We are simply asking the Coast Guard to implement the law."

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. 
McGinty said: "Many of these invasive species pose serious ecological and 
economic threats because of their potential to foul industrial facilities 
and plug public water supply intakes that draw from infested waters.  They 
can even interfere with the operation of locks and dams on rivers, or 
damage boat hulls and engines.  The Bush Administration's failure to act 
will have repercussions that stretch far beyond just the environmental 
arena, particularly in Pennsylvania.  Outdoor recreation has become one of 
the engines that drive our economy.  Fishing and boating alone have 
economic impacts valued at more than $2 billion per year for the 
Commonwealth.  Some of the natural beauty and wildlife that draw people to 
Pennsylvania are already at risk.  Allowing the destruction of our 
waterways and recreational resources will devastate the very prizes that 
have made Penn's Woods so famous throughout the nation."

Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said: "We are taking these 
actions because Wisconsin's environment and economy continue to be harmed 
by the steady introduction of invasive species, the primary source of which 
is coming from uncontrolled ballast water discharges from ships plying the 
Great Lakes.  To date, the federal government has not seen fit to propose 
effective solutions to deal with it, so we are demanding it now.  Wisconsin 
is making significant efforts to respond to many invasive animals and 
plants like zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil, round gobys, rusty crayfish 
and the like in our lakes, rivers and streams. But those efforts will be 
frustrated as long as ships keep dumping them back into our waters.  Our 
actions today will begin the process of correcting this damaging problem."

A leading environmental group, Great Lakes United, joined the petition to 
the Coast Guard and praised the action by the states.

Jennifer Nalbone, Habitat and Biodiversity Coordinator with Great Lakes 
United, said: "Since ocean-going ships started using the Great Lakes Seaway 
in 1959, 36 of the 50 new aquatic invasions to the Great Lakes originated 
from ocean-going vessel transportation.  Without adequate controls on ocean 
going vessels, many more foreign invaders are hitchhiking to these fresh 
waters via dirty ballast tanks.  The states' efforts are essential to 
ensure that the Great Lakes quickly gain the protection from invasive 
species that are desperately needed."

The Great Lakes contain 18 percent of the world's and 95 percent of the 
United States' supply of fresh surface water.  The Great Lakes ecosystem is 
a source of drinking water for over 33 million people in the United States 
and Canada, and used by millions of people for energy, recreational, 
agricultural, industrial and transportation purposes.

The petition to the U.S. Coast Guard was filed today by New York Attorney 
General Eliot Spitzer, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Michigan 
Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester, Minnesota 
Attorney General Mike Hatch, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, Pennsylvania 
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty and 
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

The "friend of the court" brief was filed today by New York Attorney 
General Eliot Spitzer, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Michigan 
Attorney General Mike Cox, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, 
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Acting Chief Counsel 
Richard P. Mather Sr. and Wisconsin Attorney General Peg 
Lautenschlager.  The amicus brief was filed in the Northern District of 
California in the case "Northwest Environmental Advocates et al vs. US 
Environmental Protection Agency."

The case and petition are being handled by New York Assistant Attorney 
General Timothy Hoffman and Scientist Raymond Vaughan, under the 
supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lehner.
#



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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
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PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
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