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E-M:/ state action on invasive species
- Subject: E-M:/ state action on invasive species
- From: "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2004 14:55:30 -0400
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- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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
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
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
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.
Alex J. Sagady & Associates http://www.sagady.com
Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
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