Northwest Environmental Advocates ❖ The Ocean Conservancy
For Immediate Release: For Further Information:
September 18, 2006 Deborah Sivas (Stanford Law) 650/723-0325
Melissa Powers (PEAC) 503/768-6727
Nina Bell (NWEA): 503/295-0490
Tim Eichenberg (TOC): 415/979-0900 x12
Leo O’Brien (Baykeeper): 415/856-0444 x102
Linda Sheehan (CA Baykeeper) 510/219-7730
FEDERAL COURT ORDERS
Finding that EPA’s regulation exempting ballast water discharges from the Clean Water Act is “plainly contrary to the congressional intent,” a federal court ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Monday to come up with new regulations in two years. The order follows the court’s finding last year that EPA had illegally exempted ships’ ballast water discharges from Clean Water Act permit requirements. Today’s ruling directs EPA to take specific action by September 30, 2008 to ensure that shipping companies comply with the Clean Water Act and restrict the discharge of invasive species in ballast water.
Deborah Sivas, Director of the Stanford Law School Environmental Law Clinic and representing the three plaintiff groups, noted that, “If EPA had spent the last seven years developing a permitting program for ballast water instead of fighting this court battle, not only would our water be safer but our economy would be better protected. Invasive species come at a tremendous cost to both the environment and taxpayers. ”
Nina Bell, Executive
Director of Northwest Environmental Advocates, one of the plaintiffs, said the
court order will shift some of the burden of invasive species from taxpayers to
shippers. “This is a very important ruling for the taxpayers, American
businesses, and environment that currently pay the huge price of EPA’s
continuing refusal to implement the Clean Water Act. Now we have a fighting
chance to prevent further invasions of species that are clogging the intake
pipes of drinking water facilities and power plants, harming the commercial
fishing industry, and destroying habitat,” said
The absence of effective
federal action, combined with the high cost of invasive species to the
environment, industries, and drinking water sources, has led numerous states to
pass their own laws.
Tim Eichenberg, Pacific Region Director of The Ocean Conservancy, cautioned that shippers have already shifted their effort from fighting the groups’ lawsuit to lobbying Congress. “The shipping industry has had a free ride while the public has paid billions each year. Now they are pushing for Congress to grant a special exemption from the Clean Water Act, to preserve their ability to pollute at the nation’s expense,” said Eichenberg. “Not only do they want an exemption from the Clean Water Act but they also want to prevent the states from taking any action to protect themselves from these prohibitively expensive invasions,” he added.
species from other countries are carried to
"This is one of the worst types of pollution because the pollutants multiply and their impacts grow. It deserves every bit as much oversight and regulation as other dangerous contaminants," said Leo P. O'Brien, Executive Director of Baykeeper. "It is time for industry
to do its fair share and to stop dumping its problems on the public.
The lawsuit was brought by Northwest Environmental Advocates, The Ocean Conservancy, and Baykeeper, three of the signers of a petition filed with EPA in January 1999. EPA denied the petition in 2003, triggering the lawsuit.
The Environmental Law
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